18 June, 2011

Weapon-free society, culture advocated

Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD - “It is not the weapon but the sophistication of weapon which threaten the human beings and makes the militant stronger” commented Brig (R) Muhammad Saad at a seminar on ‘Proliferation of Small Arms and their Impact on Internal Security Dynamics’ held in Islamabad on Friday.

The speakers called for strict check on proliferation of small arms and prohibition of gun violence by restricting use of arms to promote a weapon-free culture in society.

Irfan Mufti of SAP-Pakistan suggested that “we should not counter the militants with guns but should use dialogue to end conflict.”

The seminar was jointly organized by Awaz- Center for Development Studies, Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) and Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights (JDHR). It was part of International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in connection with Global Week of Action against Gun Violence being observed in more than 70 countries till Sunday (19th June). 
Naveed Shinwari, CEO of CAMP explained that “the Week of Action highlights the international campaign to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.” In his presentation, Shinwari told that “there are about 900 million guns in the world. Police, armies and other government agencies that have guns account for around 25% of the arsenal. That means that around 75% of guns are owned by individual, which is alarming.”

Speaking on the occasion, Shafqat Munir, President JDHR said that “social media can help root-out violence culture from the society.” While Zia ur Rahman, CEO of Awaz demanded that the “government should introduce strict arm control measures and especially restrict use of arms in festivals and daily life.”

Sadia Saeed, Programmer Officer of Awaz shared the findings of a study conducted by Awaz in Multan, Muzaffar Garh, Jampur and D.G. Khan Districts in 2009. The study related to gun violence revealed that 65% illegal firearms were being used for violence against women while 94% perpetrators use guns to threaten their wives directly. What is worse is that 49% rifles were also used for beating and whipping woman at home.

Salma Malik, Associate Professor of Defence and Strategic Department (DSS) at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) said that Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) kill more people worldwide in comparison to the weapons of mass destruction. We need “to disarm the society to make it more secure and strengthen the country” she added.



In his presentation on ‘Proliferation of small arms and its impact on internal security dynamics’ Brig (R) Saad informed that the impact of small arms on internal security is that it spreads despondency, demoralizes security forces, hinder development, breakdown of law and order, affect the cultural values, and it requires lesser number of people to destabilize regions. He recommended that political will, de-weaponization, alternate means of livelihood, amendment of laws on assault with arms, prohibition on display of arms, regulation of manufacturing of weapon and awareness on ills of using arms can help reduce the use of arms.

Nabila Jafar, a student of DSS department at QAU said that “FATA is the most vulnerable region where the abundance of small arm and light weapons is one of the factors which has increased intensity and durations of conflicts.” She did a presentation on ‘Small Arms and Light Weapons in FATA and their Indiscriminate Use in Internal Clashes among Tribes: A Case Study of Kurram Agency.’