Interior Minister Rehman Malik — Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry has endorsed a proposal seeking issuance of licences for prohibited and non prohibited bore arms on the recommendations of the members of parliament and provincial assemblies.

Under the proposal, 10 licences for prohibited bore arms and 20 for non-prohibited bore arms could be issued every month on the recommendations of each member of the Senate and National Assembly.

Similarly, five prohibited and 10 non-prohibited bore arms licences could be issued on the recommendations of each member of provincial assemblies.

This was said by Interior Minister Senator Rehman Malik at a briefing given to the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Interior here on Monday. It means over 7,700 new licences could be issued for prohibited bore arms and over 15,800 for nonprohibited bore arms on the recommendations of around 1,100 lawmakers.

The decision elicited a strong reaction from the committee members with Bushra Gohar of the Awami National Party saying that powerful arms mafia was using lawmakers to promote its interests and another member warning against issuing licences to the people with criminal record.

Mr Malik, however, downplayed the fear licensed weapons would be used in criminal activities, saying only un-licensed weapons were used in crimes. He said a number of lawmakers 'genuinely' needed security.

'Whether weapons are used as a status symbol or to feel protected, the fact is that they are in demand,' he said, adding that under the Constitution it was the responsibility of the state to provide security to citizens but it was not possible to make each area, street and house secure.

The minister said that after the 18th amendment work relating to issuance of arms licences had been devolved to provinces. The interior ministry has not issued any arms licence after June 30, 2011.

He said a revised arms licence policy hadbeen formulated which would be soon submitted to the prime minister for approval.

Mr Malik said Nadra had been assigned the task for revalidation and issuance of computerised arms licences, adding that by Jan 4, 2012 it had received 109,800 licences for revalidation. Another 2,400 cases for revalidation were pending owing to deficiency of required documents, he said.

He directed Nadra to introduce measures aimed at facilitating people.

Banned groups' leaders

On the issue of unchecked movement of leaders of proscribed outfits raised by Minister of State for Human ResourceDevelopment Sheikh Waqas Akram, the interior minister said provincial governments would be asked to keep a check on activities of such elements.

Sheikh Waqas said the leader of a banned outfit came from Karachi to Punjab and hurled threats on him.

He said the leader of another proscribed organisation was seen freely moving in Islamabad's red zone with masked armed men in two double-cabin vehicles escorting him.

Mr Malik said a scam of transferring illicit weapons to Karachi through oil tankers had been unearthed, adding that a large cache of arms had been seized and some arrests made.