Pakistan has officially suspended all the automatic weapons licenses issued since the 1970s with immediate effect in “public interest,” except to some state security agencies.
Security expert Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa told media that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will face two hurdles that could cause a backlash: Canceling MPs’ licenses, and taking weapons from internationally banned militant organizations that Pakistan does not view as a threat.
Gun enthusiast Sadiqan Hyder said that, “If the suspension is impartially implemented, I fully support it.”
He also added that, “This notification should apply to all, with no relaxation for certain influential, elite and political personalities, because if they are spared, people who own expensive weapons won’t accept turning them in. This would make the law selective and unacceptable.”
License owners have until Jan. 15, 2018, to replace their automatic weapons license with a semi-automatic one, and have an authorized dealer or authority convert their weapons to single-shot action.
The other option is to surrender their weapon to the district administration and receive 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($476) in compensation. Failure to do either will render the license void and the weapon illegal.
During his maiden speech at the National Assembly in August, Abbasi said that, “There isn’t a single country in the world that allows the licensing of automatic (guns) for citizens. If you go outside Parliament right now, you’ll see a private militia.”
He also added, “The federal government will seize all automatic weapons and in return, compensate the people.