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Uniforms selling like shoes

August 19, 2012

It has been observed in many terrorist attacks that terrorists wore military uniforms, which are easily available in different cities including Rawalpindi.

Although concerned authorities have imposed a ban on sale of military uniforms, especially uniform of armed forces of the country.

Paradoxically, it is still being sold at Railway Road/Koila Centre, which is only four to five kilometres away from military General Headquarters (GHQ).

A market for military uniforms, which is said to be more than 50 years old, consists of more than 30 shops. One can see a uniform of Pakistan Army and other military accessories hanging outside these shops like shoes, socks, bags, caps, badges and gun cases etc.

Not only in Rawalpindi but in many other cities, military uniforms are easily accessible to all. However, neither uniform sellers nor city authorities are following the ban.

After attack on General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, the administration imposed a ban on all private tailor shops sewing uniforms for soldiers and selling badges. But the order has not been implemented fully.

Several of these shops are still openly selling uniforms. Some of the tailors have closed their shops but they shifted the stuff to their homes where they continue their business.

It is believed that terrorists in both attacks — GHQ and Kamra — had purchased military uniforms in open markets in Rawalpindi or in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar agreed that there was no check on the sale of military uniform in Rawalpindi cantonment area.

“When any incident takes place in which terrorists had worn military uniform, the city administration starts checking of military uniform shops and gives them strict guidelines but with the passage of time the restriction relaxes,” the DCO confessed.

Asked about any ban on sale of military uniforms, he said he was not aware of any such ban in Rawalpindi.

He however said that uniforms of scouts and children were being sold in open market but not the uniform of armed forces of the country.

On the other hand, some military uniform sellers ruled out the possibility that terrorists could purchase uniform of armed forces from their shops.

“We first check official identify card of a person before giving him a military uniform,” said a shop owner Ijaz Bhatti.

Another shopkeeper in uniform market said he and other shop owners do not sell uniforms to individuals but they are sold in bulk on showing of permission from military authorities.

However, some other traders believe that it was impossible that owners of uniform shops could differentiate between a terrorist and an army officer, while selling their goods.

General public is of the view that authorities concerned have failed to ban sale of military and police uniforms and official badges in the open market in Rawalpindi.Some residents of Railway Road/Koila Centre said that there was no restriction on selling of military uniform to any individual.

“We have seen a number of times that people other than armed forces personnel buy uniforms and other materials from uniform market without any check of the local administration,” an aged man Rafiq Ahmed said.

They said as these shops also supply uniforms to armed forces in bulk, therefore their owners have good contacts with top officials in military and thus no action was taken against them by local authorities for selling military uniforms so openly.