Assets statements show legislators’ partiality for guns

Published October 24, 2019
In what is a clear manifestation of politicians’ obsession with guns, dozens of lawmakers have a wide array of arms in their arsenals, including military-grade deadly weapons designed to inflict maximum casualties. — Reuters/File
In what is a clear manifestation of politicians’ obsession with guns, dozens of lawmakers have a wide array of arms in their arsenals, including military-grade deadly weapons designed to inflict maximum casualties. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: In what is a clear manifestation of politicians’ obsession with guns, dozens of lawmakers have a wide array of arms in their arsenals, including military-grade deadly weapons designed to inflict maximum casualties.

A thorough analysis of the statements of assets declared by the members of parliament and provincial assemblies for the year 2018 showed that many of them were in possession of multiple prohibited and non-prohibited weapons ranging from German G-3 battle rifles and MP-5 submachine guns to Russian AK-47 commonly known as Kalashnikov, and from shotguns of different calibres to Austrian Glock and Russian Makarov pistols.

Ramsha Jahangir
Ramsha Jahangir

In all, 99 legislators declared their weapons, though most of them provided sketchy details. Many have not mentioned the number and type of the weapons they own while many others have not cited the cost, claiming that the arms were gifted or inherited. Those who have declared weapons in their assets’ statements include 19 members of the National Assembly, 10 Senators, 47 members of the Sindh Assembly, nine members of Punjab, eight members of Balochistan and six members of the KP Assembly, excluding those elected from the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who was elected to the National Assembly from Shaheed Benazirabad constituency, declared the value of unspecified type and number of weapons he possessed at Rs16.60 million. It is estimated that he owned over 100 weapons.

99 members of provincial and national assemblies and Senate declare weapons among their assets; estimates show Zardari has over 100 weapons

The declared value of an unspecified number of weapons owned by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Senator Mohammad Azam Khan Swati was Rs5million.

A former lawmaker from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told Dawn that what had been declared by the elected representatives was just a tip of the iceberg. “Weapons are part of culture in KP and Balochistan. I have dozens of weapons but have never declared them in my statements of assets,” he candidly conceded. Besides, many consider it necessary for their protection considering the level of threat to themselves and the security situation in different areas.

Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), representing Balochistan, valued the livestock and arms he owned at Rs1.5 million, leaving people to guess how much of it was spent on arms purchase.

Dr Fehmida Mirza, federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination who won NA-230 (Badin seat) on a Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) ticket, declared fire guns worth around Rs906,000 in her own name besides weapons valuing Rs1.62 million in the name of her husband Zulfikar Mirza.

Ghulam Ali Talpur, who won NA-229 on a PPP ticket, has an unspecified number of weapons valuing Rs2.5 million, while PTI legislator from NA-195 Riaz Mahmood Khan Mazari has an unspecified number of gifted and purchased weapons worth Rs5 million.

Mr Zardari’s brother-in-law MNA Munawar Ali Talpur who was elected from NA-219 possessed arms and ammunition worth Rs1.24m, while his spouse MPA Faryal Talpur who was elected to the Sindh Assembly from PS-10 owns arms and ammunition valuing Rs1.48m.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, federal Minister for Railways and Awami Muslim League chief, who was elected from Rawalpindi’s NA-62 owns unspecified type and number of guns and pistols valued at Rs630,000. His nephew, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, who won from Rawalpindi’s NA-60 on a PTI ticket, declared that the value of weapons he owned was Rs200,000.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmakers from NA-226 and NA-227 (Hyderabad) Sabir Hussain and Salahuddin claimed to have weapons valuing Rs210,000 and Rs130,000, respectively. PTI MNA from NA-242 (Karachi) Saif Ur Rehman declared that he possessed weapons worth Rs160,000.

Abdul Wasay of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) elected from NA-257 (Qila Saifullah) is the only MNA from Balochistan to have declared weapons in his assets. He has a G-3 rifle and a non-prohibited bore pistol valuing a little over Rs500,000.

Rafiq Ahmad Jamali, PPP lawmaker from NA-235 (Dadu), has 29 weapons, including 10 Kalashnikov rifles, four shotguns, three G-3 rifles, one MP-5 and some unspecified weapons. He mentioned the value of just eight of them, including six unspecified weapons and two shotguns, as over Rs500,000.

PTI MNA Rana Mohammad Qasim Noon from NA-159 (Multan) owns two Kalashnikov rifles, one semi-automatic rifles, one 12-bore repeater gun and two pistols valuing over Rs1m.

PPP MNA Syed Ayaz Ali Shah from NA-231 (Sujawal) has 12 weapons including six shotguns, five rifles and one pistol — all acquired for Rs360,000. Another lawmaker of the party elected from Jamshoro (NA-233) owns six weapons including three shotguns, two pistols and one rifle the cost of which has been put at Rs825,000.

PML-N MNA Rana Mohammad Qasim who won Kasur’s seat NA-139 claimed to have two Kalashnikov rifles, one G-3 rifle and an unspecified weapon of non-prohibited bore, worth Rs800,000. Syed Faizul Hasan of the PTI elected from NA-70 (Gujarat) has two Kalashnikov rifles and one 30-bore pistol. He has not mentioned the cost or value of the guns.

PTI MNA retired major Tahir Sadiq, who won Attock seat (NA-55), also has not declared the value of a 12-bore shotgun and a 38-bore revolver that he owned.

PML-N MNA Ibadullah Khan who was elected from Shangla (NA-10) has not shared the number of weapons he owned but put their value as Rs450,000.

Senators

The declared values of the weapons the National Party (NP) senators from Balochistan, Mohammad Akram and Kabir Ahmad Shahi, owned were Rs1.5m and Rs950,000, respectively.

Independent senator from Balochistan Sardar Mohammad Shafiq Tareen has two rifles and two pistols of unspecified bore costing Rs350,000.

PTI senator from Punjab Shahzad Wasim has weapons worth Rs223,000. Gianchand of the PPP, minority member from Sindh, owns a rifle, a shotgun and a pistol valuing Rs230,000.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party senator from Balochistan Usman Kakar, who owns an AK-47 rifle, has not mentioned its cost. Senate deputy chairman Saleem Mandviwalla has a pistol valuing Rs85,000, while PTI Senator Azam Swati has weapons worth Rs5 million and PML-N Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani declared the value of livestock and arms he possessed as Rs1.5m.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2019

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