Guns and guards

Published May 14, 2024

THERE are some flawed aspects to our society that we must start to fix at the grassroots level. One of these is the psychological impulse ingrained in certain segments to make themselves known in public through vulgar displays of force. Recently, local police arrested five private security guards from Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority for violating a ban on the public display of arms. These men, dressed in civilian clothes, were carrying three rifles, one Kalashnikov and one pistol between them, which were seized during the arrest. A case was subsequently registered against them. This development may seem inconsequential in the larger scheme of things, but it should be appreciated. The sight of heavily armed men, often in civvies, zooming around in pickup trucks and pushing ordinary citizens out of the way to make space for the rich and powerful has unfortunately become quite common in our cities. It is a shameful practice that has no space in the civilised world.

While some citizens and their families understandably face greater risks than others owing to their work or personal background, acquiring a posse of intimidating-looking private guards has also become a status symbol for the nouveau-riche. This has to be strongly discouraged, and Karachi’s DHA is right in attempting to disincentivise it by banning public displays of arms within its jurisdiction. It is unseemly for private guards openly wielding weapons to be lounging outside restaurants, shopping malls and educational institutes, where their presence can cause various inconveniences and also make people feel unsafe, especially as there have been many incidents involving private security acting irresponsibly with their weapons, thereby jeopardising the lives of others. The provincial governments also have an important role to play in this regard. They must strengthen the police and focus on eradicating violent elements from society so that everyone can feel safe without being surrounded by guns.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2024

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