KOHAT: The gunsmiths in the arms manufacturing town of Darra Adamkhel are worried about future of their fading business, a legacy of their forefathers and sole source of earnings, though this illegal business is expected to be regularised by the government after complete merger of erstwhile Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Meanwhile, due to presence of informers in the bazaar the smuggling has been controlled to some extent, leading to increase in the charges of arms carriers all over the country.
The delivery charges for Kalashnikovs and pistols range between Rs2,500 and Rs30,000 in case of automatic guns and Rs800 and Rs 2,500 of pistols anywhere in the country from Kohat up to Karachi on surety when the payment is made on handing over of the weapon at home.
However, consignments of the influential were being smuggled as usual despite checking on the Indus Highway and through unfrequented routes. Despite exorbitant surge in the prices of foreign-made weapons following ban on automatic arms and ammunition the potential buyers from Punjab have been visiting the Darra arms bazaar.
Charges of weapon traffickers on rise due to strict checking
The owner of only foreign-made weapons, Ibraheem Shah, told this correspondent that second in line of popular weapons used for hunting were the 12-bore shotguns, which included Baikal, Kral, Russian, Spanish Astra and Italian and a number of antiques. The prices of such second-hand weapons range between Rs30,000 and Rs35,000.
Mr Shah said that these days the business of 12-bore rifles, used for hunting purpose, was booming whose prices ranged between Rs90,000 and Rs220,000 of the weapon of Italian, Russian and Spanish origin, depending on their make.
The replicas ranged between Rs6,000 and Rs11,000, but were not liked due to their heavy weight. He said that sometime back the investors from Peshawar had established factories in Darra Adamkhel and produced best copies of 12-bore rifles whose quality was not less than the foreign made. Now they had moved to Peshawar again, he said.
The AK-47 automatic weapon is still the most cherished gun introduced in the market after the Soviet-Afghan war. He said that the Chinese second-hand weapon was available at price between Rs100,000 and Rs120,000 and the ‘grease pack’ at Rs190,000. The brand new Russian weapon was priced between Rs250,000 and Rs300,000 depending on the model. The Russian one was a heavy gun, but liked because its barrel was strong which did not get hot after firing.
A business party was haggling over the price of two 25-bore Spanish pistols and a Russian magazine of a Kalashnikov at the shops of famous foreign-made arms. Earlier, it wanted wholesome price for five pistols, but when the shopkeeper told them about new prices of second-hand items they settled for only two.
The shopkeeper, Ibraheem Shah, first asked for Rs28,000 per piece for the small pistols which were available for up to Rs12,000 sometime back. They agreed to pay Rs22,000 per piece and the deal was finalised.
As they showed interest in other items they were told that the price of Chinese 30-bore second-hand pistol was between Rs35,000 and Rs45,000 and of Russian Makarov Rs55,000 and Rs60,000. Three years ago, such weapons were being sold at prices between Rs16,000 and Rs30,000.
The Makarov pistol of Czechoslovakia was available in the market at Rs125,000 and of Russian origin Rs550,000 with a 20- bullet magazine. He said that the cost of Beretta of Brazil was Rs200,000, that of US Rs250,000 to Rs300,000 and Italy Rs400,000. The second-hand German Mauser was available at Rs45,000.
Another shopkeeper told this correspondent that the originals were found with much difficultly whose price was up to Rs600,000 which nobody could afford therefore their copies had been produced which were hard to be differentiated.
One Saifullah in Kohat weapon market disclosed that the Darra-made copies cost them Rs40,000 which they sold to the arms dealers of Punjab for Rs125,000 per piece.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2019