Hazardous celebration

Published August 16, 2022

CAN celebratory actions that often result in death or lifelong injuries really be described as such? Be it Eid, New Year’s Eve, a wedding or Independence Day, celebratory gunfire has often turned a joyous event into an occasion of distress all over the country. For instance, at least 57 people — ranging from eight to 60 years in age — were reportedly injured in celebratory gunfire in different parts of Karachi on Sunday as citizens observed Pakistan’s 75th Independence Day with fervour. At least 23 people had been similarly wounded on the eve of Eid in May. Earlier, at the beginning of this year, an 11-year-old boy died while 18 others, including women and children, were wounded in deadly aerial firing. Unfortunately, such barbaric expressions of celebration are quite frequent in Karachi as well as other parts of the country where owning weapons is considered to be part and parcel of the local culture. Such habits reflect a serious lack of concern for the implications of one’s actions for others.

In fact, the state has done virtually nothing to curb the trend and has disregarded the illegal possession or open display of weapons. Despite a province-wide ban on the display of arms and a codified procedure for the possession of weapons by common citizens, there appears to be no management of the licence-awarding process by the authorities in Sindh. Though the law only allows tor the possession of a restricted category of arms, weapons of all shapes and sizes are openly brandished about by civilians and private security personnel without fear of consequences. Rather than taking cosmetic measures such as the imposition of Section 144, the authorities should stop the issuance of counterfeit weapons licences and work towards identifying illegal arms dealers and those who buy their ware in order to reduce the free flow of weapons in Karachi and other parts of the country. It is about time the authorities seriously tackled this challenge; ‘celebration’ cannot be a convenient excuse for dangerous and senseless aerial firing.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2022

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