On December 14, 2018, the federal government issued a notification removing a ban imposed on the issuance of non-prohibited bore arms and prohibited bore (automatic and semi-automatic) weapons licenses. The notification is good news for the militant elite, hardcore criminals, terrorists and gun-toting goons, who are the most likely recipients of the weapons. Certainly, the lethal weapons will multiply the probability of violence, terrorism, lawlessness and tribal conflicts across Pakistan.The recent decision of the government to put a conclusive end to all extremist and militant organisations is an initiative vital to peace and security in the country. The initiative, which is in keeping with Article 256 of the constitution which explicitly prohibits all private armies, is welcomed. However, the initiative will not bear constructive and productive results, if it is not accompanied by the elimination of the legal and illegal weapons which are prevalent in the country. Reportedly, in Pakistan, some 20 million weapons are in the hands of militants, mafias, private militias, and influential individuals. Of the overall weapons, many are smuggled from Afghanistan and other countries into Pakistan by agents of the traders of the international black market who are actively involved in this business throughout the country. Some of them are locally manufactured. Of these, 80 percent are still unlicensed. And 20 percent have been licensed by the federal and provincial governments and the fake weapon-licenses manufacturing industry consisted of agents of the international black market and some black sheep in the government machinery.From 2008 to 2013 the federal government only issued 69,473 licenses for prohibited-bore weapons. This was admitted by the interior minister in 2013. The KP government issued 161,416 licenses in its first two years from 2013 to 2015, and Sindh gave out around 300,000. Many of the licenses have been issued on the basis of influence, nepotism, favouritism and bribery. Following the buy-back scheme successfully implemented in Australia, Pakistan should introduce a nation-wide de-weaponisation initiativeThe fact is that the proliferation of weapons weakens the authority of the state. People in possession of weapons challenge the writ of the state and the state becomes toothless before them. In Pakistan, hundreds of rural and urban private militias and armies, maintained in gross violation of Article 256 by its militant elite, have been operating with complete impunity. A statistical report reveals that in the space of just three years, between 2006 and 2009, terrorists and criminals had struck 6,894 times using illicit arms across Pakistan, killing 9,643 people, injuring 18,788, and kidnapping thousands of citizens for ransom.In Karachi, the possession and unbridled use of firearms in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom and extortion by terrorists, criminals and anti-social elements, as well as for waging guerrilla war against the state, killings of innocent citizens had become the order of the day. According to recorded data 2029 people were killed in Karachi, including over 100 police men in 2014. After Operation Clean-up 2013, many of Karachi’s hard-core criminals and terrorists had fled from the city and even from the country in order to escape the dragnet. There is mounting evidence that they have now started to return to their old hunting ground. They should not be allowed to carry out offensive activities again, and this can only be achieved by making Karachi a weapon-free city. In February of 2016, police forces from four districts – Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Larkana, Kashmore – and special commodores from Karachi launched a search operation to recover a 7-year-old girl named Fazila Sarki, who was kidnapped by a close relative of the chieftain of a tribe. The operation lasted about two months, in which the people of the tribe used rocket launchers and automatic weapons against the police until the last day. Ultimately, the police had to end the operation without recovering Fazila or arresting any person of the fighting tribe.On March 5, 2019, in Sindh’s Kashmore district, around 10 people of the Teghani tribe, equipped with sophisticated weaponry, attacked the village of Jan Muhammad Bijarani and killed a person of Bijarani tribe. It was not the first attack but from 2014 to date, many more deadly assaults and counter attacks with rocket launchers and guns have occurred between the two tribes, which have claimed the lives of around 38 people. Hundreds of other tribal clashes have occurred among several tribes in the interior Sindh. What makes the conflicts most devastating is the unlimited possession of guns by the people. According to Bhittai Social Watch and Advocacy (BSWA), a local NGO, within five years from 2010 to 2014 around 2300 people including 160 women and 45 children were killed brutally and 3697 injured with weapons in the interior Sindh. Police have been seen as powerless to control these clashes. In the US, there is no ban on the possession of non-prohibited bore arms, but people are not allowed to buy automatic weapons without a special permit. In the UK, the vast majority of weapons are restricted to state-authorised personnel of the military or police, and no group, gang, or citizen is allowed to possess, carry, or display any weapon, without a license. The country has been implementing the law successfully. But in Pakistan, people not only have acquired both categories of weapons but can also carry and use them openly with no fear of repurcussion from the law. Following the buy-back scheme successfully implemented in Australia, Pakistan should introduce a nation-wide de-weaponisation initiative for the surrender of all un-licensed weapons. The writer is an academicianPublished in Daily Times, March 21st 2019.