Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Heterodoxy in Conflict Resolution Case Study of Fire Arms in Pakistan

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Heterodoxy in Conflict Resolution Case Study of Fire Arms in Pakistan

Article excerpt

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson


Small arms are one of the gravest problems for Pakistan with a steady rise in graph since the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan. Under Regan Doctrine(Phillips, 1986), almost all factions of Afghan resistance to Soviets aggression were armed in order to make the war costly, effective and seek quicker results. Influx of AK 47 (Kalashnikov) in Pakistan has not only challenged the cultural values of the nation but shaken human security to the core. The problem got further compounded by lost weapons containers transiting for NATO and US through Pakistan(Rana, 2011).Certain traditional connexions are also associated to possession of weapons in certain parts of Pakistan. Nation owns estimated 20 million small arms out of which almost 7 million are licensed(Khan, 2013). Under the Supreme Court orders Sindh Government launched a whopping Rupees 100 Million anti-illegal weapons campaign and in one month were successful in confiscating only 18 weapons(Khan, 2013). A 2011 Suo Motu notice by Supreme Court of Pakistan pointed out 180,956 licenses of nonprohibited bore issued by the Government of Sindh whereas 46,114 licenses of prohibited bore and 1,202,470 licenses of non-prohibited bore issued by the Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan(Choudhry, 2011). From 2008 to 2013, total of 342 Members of National Assembly (MNAs) received 69,473 Prohibited Bore licences - almost 203 weapons per law abiding legislator(Sadiq, 2013). The gravity of the problem yearns for heterodoxy in policy formulation. This paper aspires to explore the options available in Pakistan so that the state grip on issue of weapons is tightened and practically germane.

Theory of Societal Change

Current law and order situation in Pakistan can be attributed to societal trauma witnessed by the nation in past almost four decades. Multiple factors have left lasting imprint on cultural and traditional values and brought about changes that were unexpected and undesirable such as Kalashnikov Culture. Excessive display and ownership of small arms by few and others desiring to do same has literally created classes of "have" and "have-nots". This deprivation gap between the two is increasing due to easy access, political affiliations as well as exposure to previously hard to acquire technologies and instruments of conflict. Pakistani society has witnessed more than its fair share of disturbance, lawlessness and terrorism not to mention over flow of weapons.

Paris Roland in his book At Wars End has argued, that any process of transformation of a society which has just emerged out of civil war into a liberal market economy and well reformed democracy will be extremely tumultuous and institutional capacity needs to be built before such reforms can be ordained(Paris, 2004) It is necessary to develop democratic social institutions before aspiring for lasting peace in societies which have just emerged out of a trauma. The democratic process can only be sustained if it is ready to harness existential conflict energy and transform it into positive vigor for lasting peace.

The fragility and sensitivity of the issue of gun control in Pakistan needs to be reflected in the light of aforementioned theoretical aspects of societal vicissitudes. As proposed by the Theory of Social Change, institution building and long term planning is the most plausible solution for Pakistan. With second consecutive democratically elected government in place, emphasis in Pakistan needs to be shifted towards institutional capacity building and inclusive policy formulation. Like any other society emerging out of prolonged trauma, Pakistan merits deliberate efforts on part of government to institutionalize new reforms over a long period of time or else it will risk to further destabilize the society and increase violence. …

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