Gilgit-Baltistan: Illegal weapons from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

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GILGIT: As part of a deweaponisation strategy, the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has decided to intensify monitoring of vehicles and body searches of all passengers entering the territory, sources said on Tuesday.

“We will have to pay more attention to Karakoram Highway (KKH) as it is the main route,” said an official. While on Chitral side, strict checking will take place in Ghizer District, he added.

“The strength of police forces could be increased if need arose,” the official added.

Weapons are illegally brought in to G-B from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and are then sold in various parts of the region at a premium. “The arms trade gains momentum and traders earn a lot overnight when the situation in the region gets volatile,” the source said, adding that the rival sects buy arms and ammunition from the traders to keep a stock with them as clashes often breakout.

According to sources, thousands of bullets were fired in the air last week as two sects traded gunshots that lasted over three hours in Gilgit.

Despite dozens of check posts on KKH, the practice of trading arms goes unchecked, even though body searches at various places en route to Gilgit are common.

Gilgit is also accessible from Chitral via Shandur, where trade can possibly take place. Officials said that appropriate attention has also been paid to this route to stop the unlawful practice.

Gilgit-Baltistan Speaker Wazir Baig voiced concern on Tuesday over the influx of arms and ammunition into Gilgit, saying that unless the illegal smuggling of weapons is checked, Gilgit cannot be deweaponised. “A reward and punishment system should be acted upon strictly to eradicate this menace from society,” he said, adding that he has informed the chief minister of the issue as well.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2010.

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