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ED: Efforts to prevent illegal arms

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The government announced this week that it had adopted a strategy based on which, carrying arms without permit is illegal. The strategy explains that people who need to carry arms because of their safety, should take license from the ministry of interior and adds that even these people were not allowed to carry weapons after the official work hours.

The ministry said that licenses needed to be renewed every six months. The ministry added that the aim of this “new strategy” was to prevent carrying illegal arms that fueled the increasing insecurity. In fact, the half of the current insecurity is because of the presence of thousands of illegal armed individuals in the capital and other cities. These people commit murders, kidnappings, robberies, blackmailing and threatening people especially the rich ones to death or abduction their family members if they refuse to regularly pay them a certain amount.

The situation is not suitable for people and particularly businessmen who have or intend to invest in the country. One can rarely see people with luxurious vehicles on the roads of Kabul because they fear from the small illegal armed groups that would stop and drag them out of their cars and take the car. Most of the businessmen’s families are living in abroad for the fear of abduction. We had witnessed several rich people that themselves or their family members were kidnapped by these armed groups that sometimes resulted in their death as they were not able to pay the demanded amount. Killing of a money exchanger is the very recent example that was shot dead in a last week’s early morning by the unknown armed men who took his money in the north part of Kabul city.

This could be a good step the government has taken, but there are concerns that it would have unexpected consequences. For example; the persons who are permitted to carry arms are just allowed to do it within the official work hours. Crimes like murders, abductions and robberies are mostly carried out before or after the work hours especially overnight. So, how will this strategy help individual and social security when the arm owners cannot have their arms for example in the evening? The second matter is that these people need arms for their safety and are permitted to have it by the interior ministry. They are not supposed to misuse their weapons, and if the government does not trust such people, there is no need to issue permit to them.

Though government’s this step is seen optimistically in helping decrease of insecurity, but the government also needs to be cautious and correct the mistakes seen in the strategy.