The Prime Minister of Pakistan in a speech made in late August this year vowed to see a society free of weapons; a step has been taken recently to fulfil it. People having licenses for automatic weapons are informed through a notification to either get their guns converted into semi-automatic arms or secure compensation for such weapons if deposited with the district administration.

The government’s initiative is a worthwhile one. It can be seen as a step that will steer the minds of masses to hope for a weapons free society. The government has not imposed a complete ban on all kinds of weapons. Instead, it has given the people to choose between the options; either convert automatic arms in semi ones or get compensation. This measure will serve as an incentive for the people to act accordingly.

However, the sad reality is that most automatic weapons in Pakistan are unlicensed. The government has no official count or record of such weapons. It is this enormous toll of firearms that government needs to seize. A scheme in the past was introduced to make the country free of such weapons, but it failed to secure the objective. The government needs to stop the inflow of such weapons– as Pakistan at the moment is superfluous from automatic guns, partly because of the two Afghan wars.

While the present scheme will be helpful in countering the menace of weaponisation that is plaguing the state, it cannot bring changes in the state of affairs on a large scale. For a complete weapons-free country, the state should take further pro-active measures in the times to come.

But before all such measures, better law and order and security situation is the prerequisite for a society free from the menace of weapons. Because of citizens and groups which either, no longer feel part of the state or who perceive the state as being unable to provide them with personal protection, will continue to seek alternative security guarantees.