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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Is PPP the most ‘weaponized’ political party in Pakistan?

In a country where terrorism and extremism have badly affected the social fabric, possession of deadly weapons by lawmakers does not set a good precedent. The government needs to revisit gun laws in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is the ‘most weaponized political party’ in the legislature as out of 100 lawmakers to have declared owning firearms, as many as 50 are from the party. In Pakistan, laws pertaining to the ownership exist but the influential people are generally said to possess such fatal guns without license or permission of the authorities.

Local media reported that an analysis of the statements of assets and liabilities of lawmakers for the year 2018 shows that the PPP is the only party with members possessing weapons in both the houses of parliament and the three provincial assemblies except Balochistan, where it has no representation.

Besides PPP, 20 such lawmakers are from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), five each from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and four from the Balochistan Awami Party.

As many as 19 members of the National Assembly have declared weapons in their statements of assets which include six each from PPP and PTI, two each from PML-N and MQM, and one each from GDA and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, besides one independently elected member.

Read more: Bilawal threatens the state: Will Sindh card work for PPP?

Prominent among the National Assembly members to have declared weapons include former president Asif Ali Zardari who has the largest personal arsenal, with a declared value of unspecified type and the number of weapons he possesses at Rs16.60 million.

The list also includes two federal ministers — Dr. Fehmida Mirza and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.

Upper house of parliament

In the Senate, a total of ten members declared weapons in their statements. They included two each from PPP, PTI, PkMAP and NP, one from PML-N and one independent.

The list included Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwala and Gianchand of PPP, Federal Minister Azam Swati and Dr. Shahzad Wasim of PTI, Mohammad Akram and Kabir Ahmad Shahi of NP, Usman Kakar and Sardar Azam Moosakhel (expired), Agha Shahzaib Durrani of PML-N and Sardar Shafiq Tarin (Independent).

In Punjab Assembly, seven out of a total of ten members to have declared weapons are from PTI, two from PML-N and one from the PPP. Interestingly, four of the ten members are from Rahim Yar Khan district.

Balochistan Assembly’s eight members have declared weapons in their assets’ statements. They include four from BAP and one each from BNP, BNP-A and Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), besides one independent, Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, who possesses as many as 13 Kalashnikov rifles.

The six members of the assembly include three from PTI and one each from PPP and Awami National Party (ANP) beside one independent.

Read more: Defeat at home: PPP refuses to be part of anti-government March of JUI-F

Analysts and experts believe that the trend of weaponizing political parties through the elected members should have discoursed since it sets a bad precedent in society. Pakistan has been experiencing widespread cases of violence and extremism besides violence in the name of faith. In such a complex society, possession of guns raises several more questions. Hence, the government needs to revisit and revamp laws concerning possession of deadly weapons.