De-weaponisation is the only way to restore peace: Farooq Sattar.—APP photo

ISLAMABAD: Although a law to make the country weapons free already exists, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) submitted to the National Assembly secretariat on Monday a bill seeking to cleanse the country of illegal weapons and ammunition.

It calls for a countrywide ban on the manufacturing, possession and use of illicit weapons.

The bill has been submitted at a time when Karachi is suffering its worst waves of target killings and lawlessness, prompting the government to call a multi-party meeting to resolve the issue.

Reacting immediately to the proposal, the Awami National Party which is now perceived to be the main adversary of the MQM in Karachi termed the proposal an 'eyewash' and called for a ban on all weapons.

It reiterated its demand for a military operation in Karachi and said it was the only way to restore peace in city.

ANP leader Bashir Bilour said the situation in Karachi required immediate de-weaponisation first in the city.

Dr Farooq Sattar, leader of the MQM parliamentary party in the National Assembly, said at a press conference after submitting the 'De-weaponisation of Pakistan bill, 2011' to NA Secretariat that the draft also underlined the practical steps needed to get rid of illegal weapons.

He said that increasing incidents of kidnapping for ransom, murder and other crimes were posing a threat to national security.

Dr Sattar said his party wanted peace and harmony in the country. “Pakistan is facing extreme security challenges,” he said. De-weaponisation was the only way to restore peace, he added.

However, a former inspector general of police of Sindh and Balochistan said such a campaign would be futile if as in the past it lacked political will.

“The only way to make it successful is that it should be an across-the-board exercise and no one, including politicians and influential people, should be given any concession,” the retired police officer said.

Experts said a law regarding use and display of arms was already there but had never been implemented in letter and spirit.

Previous governments launched several campaigns to make the society weapon-free, but all proved to be futile.

“I don't think Interior Minister Rehman Malik has the power to make a de-weaponisation drive successful,” the former IG said.

Mr Sattar said his party had taken a bold step by introducing the bill.

“Incidents of violence, killings, kidnappings for ransom and suicide and terrorist attacks are turning into guerrilla wars. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to take measures for imposing a ban on unauthorised manufacturing, trafficking, possession and use of arms and ammunition,” he said.

The MQM leader urged parliamentarians to review the laws pertaining to manufacturing, distribution and use of weapons.

He proposed that a parliamentary committee should be set up to suggest measures for improving the police system, community policing and reforms to achieve the objective of de-weaponisation.

“All political parties should sit together to find a solution for permanent and lasting peace in Karachi,” he said.

Replying to a question, the MQM leader said: “It is premature to say whether foreign elements are involved in unrest in Karachi.”

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