DARA ADAM KHEL: It’s all guns and no roses for the shop owners of the weapons market that lines the bazaar in the dusty hamlet of Dara Adam Khel.
Inhabited by the Afridi tribe, the market has become the core identity of Dara Adam Khel — an area located between Kohat and Peshawar to the south of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
On any given day, it is packed with traders and merchants who have gained recognition for the quality and range of their guns and ammunition, with a number of tribesmen starting their businesses from scratch and soldiering on to become millionaires.
During an extensive range of interviews, where they spoke exclusively to Arab News, a majority shied away from taking credit for their craft, reasoning that they were only paying homage to skills passed on by their ancestors by taking the business forward.
Dating back to the pre-independence era of Pakistan, ancestors of these tribesmen — during their armed expedition in large swathes of Asia — learned the skills, passing it on to the future generations who developed it into a full-fledged arms industry in the Khyber tribal region.
Today, 40,000 to 50,000 residents of the area – with a total population of 110,000 — are directly associated with the industry, with every second owner saying that he inherited the business from his ancestors.
Quoting his great-grandfather, Kamran Afridi, a leading arms dealer from the area, said that members from the tribe used to form a Lashkar (armed resistance group) to fight the British imperial powers in parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Area, prior to 1947.
“There were times when tribal elders sent armed expeditions to parts of the sub-continent while the British forces used to come here to invade. Those types of armed clashes led them to learn ordnance and weapon-making skills, primarily from the Britishers. Then, our forefathers started replicating those skills when they would return from missions abroad,” Kamran said.
He added that while initially, it was a very tedious and slow-moving process to repair and manufacture small guns at their residential quarters or hujras; in time, his predecessors learned to develop their skills and eventually set up shops, hiring experienced and untrained laborers.
Later in the 50s, a few gunsmiths arrived from Punjab who were technically-trained in the craft and demonstrated comparatively-advanced methods of repairing and polishing second-hand weapons.
“Currently, according to my assessment, 6,000- 7,000 skilled laborers such as gunsmiths and professional manufacturers with technical expertise are involved in the arms hardware and ammunition-making process,” Kamran said, adding that, today, craftsmen from the market boast an incomparable expertise by being adept at assembling any type of weapon, on demand, with the help of a mere sketch.
The most popular items on sale include the 9-MM, 30-Bore guns, Repeaters, Kalashnikov and M-16 rifles. However, the industry prefers to manufacture non-prohibited weapons specifically for license holders, he said.
And while all the weapons are locally made, some hardware parts — such as springs and other items – are either sourced from Afghanistan or imported from western countries. However, according to Kamran, the biggest problem faced by the industry today is a questionable power supply and the government’s lack of commitment to regularize the market.
“The authorities never extend support to develop the industry. Rather, the recent military operations against militants in parts of the Khyber tribal district have dealt a severe blow to the business because of restrictions on the movement of people,” he said, suggesting that the government should instead introduce innovative measures to develop the market in the larger interest of the country.
“The weapons market can help bolster foreign exchange if the government helps improve its quality by introducing standard materials,” he added.
He reminisces a time, back in 2007, when former dictator Pervez Musharraf had approved Rs 50 million in funds to establish the Pakistan Hunting and Sporting Association, which was primarily aimed at modernizing the Dara Adam Khel weapons industry. That initiative, however, fizzled out due to political wrangling and bureaucratic red tape.
Last week, the federal government hinted at the possibility of allocating nearly 150 acres of land for the construction of an industrial zone catering to the weapons market, in the Mattani area of Peshawar, located near Dara Adam Khel. If the plans see the light of day, it would take two years to set up the infrastructure in the area.
Kamran said that the government has yet to kickstart the implementation process, even as the arms industry continues to irk residents of the area who complain of potential buyers randomly firing guns in the area due to the absence of a designated testing zone; and the lack of a proper sewerage system to drain chemicals and other wastes from the industry.
He added that while it will be a step in the right direction to designate an area specifically for the weapons industry, the move would also have far-reaching and negative consequences on small businesses.
That, however, does not seem to be a cause for concern for several gunsmiths who said that while they were working as unskilled laborers earlier, they have now gone on to become tycoons in the field.
One such rags-to-riches story is that of Muzaffar Khan Afridi who recalls a time in 1993 when he was working as a daily-wage gunsmith at arms and ammunition depot in Dara Adam Khel. “Today I have 30 gunsmiths working at my two ammunition stores,” he said.
Citing a lack of choice in terms of earning a livelihood in this impoverished part of the country, several said they had no other skills to teach their children and would be at the receiving end of the deal if small businesses were moved to the proposed industrial zone. “I have 17 members in my family and my business is the sole source of income,” Muzaffar said.
Samiullah Afridi, another weapons and ammunition dealer, thanked his great-grandfather for starting the family business from a hujra, which was eventually expanded to four stores in the market today. “According to a ballpark estimate, Dara Adam Khel has around 2,000- 3,000 arms depot and shops,” he added.
Throwing light on the intricacies involved in the arms-making process, Samiullah said that the metal and steel being used in the manufacturing of the weapons is recycled to improve its quality, standard and resistance power.
It’s a tedious process and involves days of hard work which begins by molding rigid steel — by tampering and designing it — to absorb massive and repeated shocks. The steel used by gun manufacturers in the US has an aluminum grading of 70-75, while the material used in Dara Adam Khel is for smaller guns and ranges between 40 to 45.
Highlighting the economic situation of the country, Samiullah said that while there continues to be a lack of employment opportunities across Pakistan, the weapons industry thrived dramatically due to an influx of educated youth who set up their own businesses in the market.
With the arrival of a more-informed generation of gun manufacturers who introduced innovative ideas, the industry was able to produce automatic rifles such as 9-MM, 30-Bore, 44, 223, 222, 32 and 12-Bore pistols, M-16, Kalakov, 7-MM, 8-MM, revolver, Makarov pistol and other brands of weapons.
He added that the government would no longer have to import small weapons if it allowed the import of small hardware items — such as steel and aluminum used in Brazil, Spain, USA, Turkey, and Russia – instead. This would help the industry produce locally-made weapons.
Secondly, the local weapons industry lacks a computerized system to check the standard, quality and resistance of steel. Despite all these deterrents, the most expensive gun manufactured locally is the M-16 also known as 223, which costs Rs 130,000.
Samiullah said that locally-made guns help small dealers – who operate from home — as all members of the family can assist each other, thereby saving their hard-earned money on rent, electricity and other amenities which otherwise they would have to spend toward the upkeep of a shop.
“We can produce excellent weapons to compete with the global market if the government regularizes the industry and offers incentives such as an uninterrupted power supply and legal cover,” Samiullah said.
Kamran concurs, adding that weapons manufactured in Dara Adam Khel are of a superior quality and can be exported to foreign countries only “if the government earnestly focuses on helping develop the industry.”
Dara Adam Khel’s weapons industry guns for greatness
Dara Adam Khel’s weapons industry guns for greatness
- Relocating market would have an adverse impact on small businesses, owners say
- Thriving manufactory took decades to develop and put Pakistan on the world map
DARA ADAM KHEL: It’s all guns and no roses for the shop owners of the weapons market that lines the bazaar in the dusty hamlet of Dara Adam Khel.
Linde traps Pakistan as South Africa level T20 series
- Pakistan opening batsman Mohammad Rizwan fell into a trap off the first ball of the match and never recovered
- South Africa deliberately placed mid-off Aiden Markram inside 30-meter circle to tempt Rizwan to go over the top
JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan opening batsman Mohammad Rizwan fell into a trap off the first ball of the match and the tourists never recovered as South Africa romped to a six-wicket win with six overs to spare in the second Twenty20 international at the Wanderers on Monday.
Man of the match George Linde revealed at the post-match presentation that South Africa deliberately placed mid-off Aiden Markram inside the 30-meter circle in order to tempt Rizwan to go over the top.
Rizwan danced down the wicket and went for a big hit but only succeeded in hitting a high catch to Markram.
“We had a game plan to bring that guy up and I was happy when he (Rizwan) came down the wicket,” said left-arm spinner Linde who went on to take three for 23.
He also held three catches in the deep and Pakistan were restricted to 140 for nine on what South African captain Heinrich Klaasen said was “a 180-190 wicket.”
South Africa showed up Pakistan’s batting shortcomings by racing to a series-levelling victory. Opening batsman Markram set the tone by slamming 54 off 30 balls.
There was a brief wobble when leg-spinner Usman Qadir took two wickets in successive overs to reduce South Africa to 92 for four but Klaasen (36 not out) and Linde took the hosts to the target with no further alarms.
Linde finished off a good day by scoring 20 not out off ten balls.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam made 50 and shared Pakistan’s only productive partnership, 58 off 49 balls for the third wicket, with Mohammad Hafeez (32).
“Aggression cost us the game,” said Babar after five of his batsmen fell to catches when they mistimed big hits.
“Early wickets cost us and the South Africans bowled really well,” he said.
Klaasen said the execution of South Africa’s bowlers was “spot on.” He singled out fast bowler Sisanda Magala, who had a nightmare first over, starting with three no-balls and then bowling three wides in conceding 18 runs.
“He begged me for another over,” said Klaasen. “He said, ‘I’m your guy today’ and he proved it.”
Magala’s next three overs, including two at the ‘death’, cost only 14 runs and he took the key wicket of Babar, his first in international cricket.
Klaasen said the message to the South African batsmen was to be positive and to base their approach on the quality of the pitch rather than the runs required.
“We want to play aggressive cricket but not cowboy cricket,” he said, pointing out that he tempered his aggression after Qadir’s double strike.
The series moves to nearby Centurion for the final two matches, on Wednesday and Friday.
Protests across major Pakistani cities after religious party chief arrested in Lahore
- Saad Rizvi has threatened government with protests if it does not expel France’s ambassador over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
- Rizvi has called on the government to honor what he says was a commitment made in February to expel the French envoy before April 20
ISLAMABAD: Protests erupted in major Pakistani cities, causing massive traffic snarls, while main intercity highways remained blocked as police arrested the leader of a religious political party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), on Monday, a day after he threatened the government with protests if it did not expel France’s envoy to Islamabad over caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Saad Rizvi was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore to “maintain law and order,” Ghulam Mohammad Dogar, chief of Lahore police, told AP.
Rizvi called on the government to honor what he said was a commitment it made in February to his party to expel the French envoy before April 20 over the publication in France of depictions of the Prophet (pbuh).
The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan says it had only committed to debating the matter in Parliament.
“Protests broke out at numerous places in Karachi and other major cities following the development,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.
In a video message, another TLP leader, Syed Zaheerul Hassan Shah, called on supporters to come out in the streets in protest, saying the government had "completely deviated from" the agreement it had reached with the TLP.
“Carry out protest demonstrations on roads and wherever you are, jam the entire country," Shah said.
Rizvi became the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party in November after the sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi.
Rizvi’s party wants the government to boycott French products and expel the French ambassador under an agreement signed by the government with Rizvi’s party in February.
Tehreek-e-Labiak and other religious parties denounced French President Emmanuel Macron since October last year, saying he tried to defend caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as freedom of expression. Macron’s comments came after a young Muslim beheaded a French school teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in class. The images had been republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial over the deadly 2015 attack against the publication for the original caricatures. That enraged many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe those depictions are blasphemous.
Rizvi’s party gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 federal elections, campaigning to defend the country’s blasphemy law, which calls for the death penalty for anyone who insults Islam.
It also has a history of staging protests and sit-ins to pressure the government to accept its demands.
In November 2017, Rizvi’s followers staged a 21-day protest and sit-in after a reference to the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was removed from the text of a government form.
Pakistan’s central bank says studying feasibility of issuing its own digital currency
- State Bank governor says “comprehensive internal survey” being carried out to learn about trends in other countries
- Global central banks developing digital currencies to modernise financial systems, ward off threat from cryptocurrencies, speed up payments
KARACHI: Pakistan’s central bank is conducting a “comprehensive internal survey” to study the feasibility of launching a digital currency in the country, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan said on Monday.
Global central banks are looking at developing digital currencies to modernise their financial systems, ward off the threat from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and speed up domestic and international payments. China is one of the most advanced in its effort, and last month proposed a set of global rules for central bank digital currencies, from how they can be used around the world to highly sensitive issues such as monitoring and information sharing.
“There are many things involved and we are conducting a comprehensive internal study that what are the trends in other central banks,” governor State Bank Dr Reza Baqir said while speaking to journalists at the Pakistan Stock Exchange. “When our study would be completed the outcome will be shared … The experience of other central banks and may be the basis for our considerations.”
In an interview to international media last month, Baqir said introducing a digital currency would boost the government’s efforts at financial inclusion and allow it to make “progress in our fight towards anti-money laundering and towards countering terrorism financing.”
The Bank of Japan began experiments this month to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of Japan's experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
As digital currencies such as bitcoin gain more traction with mainstream companies and investors, and as private efforts like the Facebook-backed Diem seek approval, the onus is on central banks to accelerate plans to issue digital cash to fend off threats to their control over money.
The People's Bank of China is aiming to become the first major central bank to issue a CBDC, part of its push to internationalise the yuan and reduce dependence on the dollar-dominated global banking system.
The European Central Bank is also exploring the introduction of a digital euro, within the next five years. It’s running into opposition from Germany, though, where the Bundesbank worries that a digital euro could pose risks to banks.
A CBDC that gains wide acceptance in international trade and payments could ultimately erode the dollar’s status as the de facto currency of world trade and undermine US influence, many analysts say.
But cybersecurity experts also warn against threats to security as well as privacy risks.
“It provides opportunities for malicious hackers and cyber crooks to carry out frauds, scams, and theft through phishing and ransomware attacks,” Muhammad Khurram Khan, founder & CEO of the Washington DC-based Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, told Arab News. “To build a secure, resilient and privacy-preserving ecosystem, the central bank of Pakistan needs to implement strong data security standards, processes, protocols, and technologies to protect against burgeoning cyber risks.”
“One major challenge associated with digital currencies is the consumer's privacy concerns,” Khan added. “Therefore, the central bank has to make sure to protect the rights of users for their privacy while they make transactions.”
Pakistan hopes UK will review adding it to 'high risk' countries over terror funding
- UK government list replicates 21 countries listed by Financial Action Task Force for being high risk or under increased monitoring
- Since 2018, Pakistan has been on FATF “grey list” of countries with inadequate terror financing and money laundering controls
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Monday it hoped the United Kingdom would review its decision to add Pakistan to a list of 21 countries that were at ‘high-risk’ over terror funding and money laundering concerns.
The list replicates countries listed by the global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), for being high risk or under increased monitoring.
Since 2018, Pakistan has been on FATF’s “grey list” of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing, which has made foreign firms more cautious about investing in Pakistan.
In a statement issued from Islamabad, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Pakistan hoped the "UK would review its regulations in light of facts on ground and avoid politically motivated and misplaced measures."
FATF has said Pakistan had now met over 21 targets out of 27 set for it in 2018 but still needs to demonstrate that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terrorism financing activity.
The watchdog also asked Islamabad to demonstrate that terrorism financing probes resulted in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
Pakistan has lately been pushing through tougher legislation and other measures to ward off blacklisting by the FATF.
In recent months, it says its law enforcement agencies have cracked down on militant groups - especially Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its welfare arms, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insanyat - and on their sources of income, arresting, trying and convicting several of their members and leaders.
Pakistan denies long-standing accusations that it has nurtured and supported militant groups for use as proxies to project power in the region, particularly towards its arch-rival India and in Afghanistan.
Pakistan calls for enforcement of coronavirus health rules to avoid ‘crisis-like situation’
- Planning minister says hospitals filing up, “weak” adherence to coronavirus standard operating procedures
- Pakistan in the midst of third wave of coronavirus, recorded 4,584 new infections in last 24 hours with 58 deaths
ISLAMABAD: Planning minister Asad Umar, who also heads the government’s pandemic response authority, the NCOC, said on Monday hospitals in Pakistan were filling up and infections were rising, calling on the administration to enforce coronavirus standard operating procedures.
Pakistan is in the midst of a third wave of the coronavirus and recorded 4,584 new infections in the last 24 hours, with 58 deaths. Health officials said on Sunday Pakistan had lost over 650 people to COVID-19 in the last week.
“Reviewed situation of disease spread, fill up of hospitals & SOP compliance status in the NCOC meeting today. SOP compliance remains very weak & pressure on hospitals is increasing,” Umar wrote on Twitter. “Administration has been asked to ramp up compliance enforcement to avoid a crises like situation.”
Reviewed situation of disease spread, fill up of hospitals & SOP compliance status in the NCOC meeting today. SOP compliance remains very weak & pressure on hospitals is increasing. Administration has been asked to ramp up compliance enforcement to avoid a crises like situation— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) April 12, 2021
On April 6, less than a week ago, Umar had said the coronavirus situation was improving:
“Increased restrictions, broader lockdowns & stronger sop [standard operating procedures] enforcement starting to have effect,” he said on Twitter. “Initial signs of positivity slowing. However, due to momentum of last 2 weeks patients on critical care & mortality will stay at high levels for some time.”
Increased restrictions, broader lockdowns & stronger sop enforcement starting to have effect. Initial signs of positivity slowing. However, due to momentum of last 2 weeks patients on critical care & mortality will stay at high levels for some time. Please follow sop's & be safe— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) April 6, 2021
Pakistan recently re-imposed a number of restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus, including closing schools, disallowing indoor dining and large gatherings like weddings and making masks mandatory in public places.
Earlier this month, Pakistan announced new health guidelines for Ramadan which begins in the South Asian nation on April 14, including banning the entry of people older than 50 years and adolescents in mosques and shrines during the holy month.
Mosques around the country will remain open during Ramadan with strict adherence to COVID-19 standard operating procedures, the government has said.
Last year after the coronavirus first broke out, a restriction on congregation provoked a backlash in Pakistan, with attacks on police as they attempted to halt prayers at mosques.
Health experts have repeatedly warned that congregations pose the biggest threat to Pakistan’s limited health care resources and infrastructure, which will crumble under the weight of a wide-spread outbreak of the coronavirus.
“Rows of the praying individuals should be aligned so that there is a distance of 6 feet between individuals,” the National Command And Operation Center said in published guidelines, saying people should perform ablutions at home. “It is obligatory that mask is worn before coming to mosque or imambargah and not to shake hands or hug anyone in the mosque.”
Unlike in the past, the government said sehr and iftar, the meals to keep and break the fast respectively, should not be held at mosques or shrines. Typically, mass sehr and iftars are held for poor people at mosques in Muslim countries. The ban will also apply to the seclusion of Itikaf when Muslims spend the last 10 days of the month in mosques to pray and meditate, with the government asking people to seclude at home.
“If during Ramzan, the government feels that these precautionary measures are not being observed or the number of affectees has risen to a dangerous level, then the government will revise its policy related to mosques and imambargahs, as for other departments,” the NCOC said. “The government has also the right to change the orders and policy regarding severely affected specific areas.”