Twenty million Pakistanis carry guns: outflanking the U.S. NRA for sure….
By Ayesha Akram
The Washington Times
When Abid Noor bids farewell to his wife before leaving for work each morning, he runs a mental check to see whether he has remembered everything – his briefcase, his watch, the lunch his wife has packed and a loaded AK-47.
The AK-47, or Kalashnikov as it is commonly called in Pakistan, is a recent addition.
“I only began carrying it two to three months ago and now I don’t leave home without it,” said Mr. Noor, 40, who works at the government’s planning and development department in the northwest city of Peshawar.
Mr. Noor said he decided to travel armed after a friend, Muhammed Javed Afridi, was kidnapped by five masked men carrying AK-47s, while driving home.
Another friend “was working as principal of a school in Jamrud, and for no apparent reason he was shot dead one day as he was returning from work.”
“I think the police are doing the best they can but it’s not enough,” he said. “I need to try and save myself also.”
It’s hard to quantify the exact numbers of Pakistanis carrying arms. Some estimates put the number of small arms in the nation of 172 million at more than 20 million, most of them unlicensed.
The United States has a far larger number of weapons per capita – 210 million privately owned firearms in a nation of 300 million, according to National Rifle Association, but these are licensed.
The North West Frontier Province, a haven for insurgents with a population of about 2 million, is thought to have more than a half-million illegal small arms and light weapons.
Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League burn an effigy of Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a protest in Lahore January 12, 2009 against Israel’s attacks on Gaza.REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN)