ISLAMABAD: Despite opposition by the Ministry of Interior, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on Tuesday directed withdrawal of a notification issued by the government to suspend licences of automatic weapons.

The ministry was warned that the matter would be sent to the privilege committee of the house if the direction was not implemented.

At the start of the committee meeting held at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services, Chairman Rehman Malik said the committee had already issued a direction to withdraw the notification issued on Dec 28, 2017, but it was not implemented.

“Moreover, 100 parliamentarians have suggested withdrawing the notification. However, now I have learnt that the Lahore High Court has suspended the notification,” he said.

Every parliamentarian should be allowed three licences for automatic weapons, Senator Jamaldini says

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during his first speech after taking oath stated that automatic weapons were being used to harass citizens on roads across the country.

He believed that the licences of automatic weapons should be cancelled. Later, the cabinet approved the matter and a notification was issued.

However, a large number of parliamentarians and other prominent personalities objected to the decision and demanded the withdrawal of the notification.

Special Secretary Interior Rizwan Malik said though provinces were empowered to issue licences of automatic weapons they never issued any. On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior issued 90,000 automatic weapon licences.

He said 60pc of the licences were issued without verification and there were also people who obtained 20 to 30 licences each. “During the interim government before the incumbent, 25,000 licences were issued. No one knows how and by whom these licences are being used,” he said.

The official said the matter was discussed by the cabinet because the prime minister was of the opinion that in most of the countries automatic weapons were not allowed.

Automatic weapons are not weapons of defence they are for assault, he added.

Additional Secretary Interior Sidique Sheikh said though weapons were used in United States, even former president Barack Obama tried to make the US a weapon-free country but could not succeed.

Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini said the recommendation of the committee should be implemented.

“In a country where people have illegal weapons how one can disarm parliamentarians. I suggest that every parliamentarian should be allowed to have three licences for automatic weapons,” he said.

Senator Sardar Mohammad Hassani said in a country where people had hand grenades it was not wise to suspend the licences of automatic weapons.

Rehman Malik constituted a subcommittee, headed by Sardar Mohammad Hassani, and directed it to hold meetings on a daily basis to address the issue by February 26.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018