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Pakistani criminals use social media to sell weapons

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Criminals in Pakistan are using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter etcetera to sell weapons and ammunition throughout the country as well as bordering nations, including Afghanistan and India.

Meanwhile, Urdu-language daily Roznama Ummat said that four members of this inter-state criminal organization were arrested by the police in the city of Karachi and that a large cache of weapons and ammunition was seized.

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As part of the illegal arms-trafficking operation, the criminals produced counterfeit licenses, supposedly issued by the interior ministry of Pakistan, and posted information about weapons and ammunition on Facebook and other social media platforms. The report added that QR codes were used for making payments.

According to the report, the weapons were procured from Darra Adamkhel – a well-established hub of illegal arms manufacturers – in the Kohat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The report noted that buyers were expected to pay 50 percent of the cost of the arms and ammunition upfront, while the rest of the payment was made at the time of delivery in towns across Pakistan. The daily also stated that private security companies were involved in the illegal weapons trade.

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Meanwhile, an intelligence source said, authorities in Pakistan are aware of such dangerous activities of criminals while in some cases, illegal trade in weapons and ammunition are being run directly under the knowledge and patronization of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). It also said, illegal weapons and ammunition are being smuggled out of Afghanistan by several jihadist groups while the handlers of such illegal activities are terrorist entities such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

It said, TTP members buy weapons, ammunition, explosives and even missiles from Afghanistan and sell those to radical Islamic militancy groups in Jammu and Kashmir in India. Consignments of these weapons and ammunition also travel up to Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab and other parts of India, while there also are information of such weapons and ammunition ending into the grips of militancy groups in Bangladesh.

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According to news agency reports, around 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, the northeastern town of Darra Adam Khel has been functioning as the center of the illegal arms trade in this corner of the world for over 150 years.

Various kinds of firearms manufactured in homes and workshops throughout the town are sold from over 2,000 stores.

It is estimated that more than 25,000 people are involved in making the arms, including pistols, specialized sharpshooter rifles, and automatic guns.

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Armed conflicts in the region and a lack of state authority up until 2018 played a major role in the rise of the illegal arms trade in the town.

A knock-off pistol can be cheaper than a cell phone in Darra Adam Khel, where the price of most imitation rifles starts at around 30,000 Pakistani rupees (US$160).

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An imitation AK-47, one of the most in-demand firearms across the country, costs about US$110.

Apart from firearms, customers can also find various types of bullets, magazines, flak jackets, binoculars, and other equipment.

Workshops here are usually attached to the stores selling arms. While a weaponsmith can make a pistol in a matter of hours, production of a rifle can last up to six days.

Many gunmakers, however, are killed due to the dangerous use of outdated technology and machinery.

Talking to Anadolu Agency, Mohammad Awais, a resident, confirmed that gunpowder is a major cause of such deaths especially in hot weather.

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Still, this industry is major source of income for many in the town, he said, adding that the arms trade also employs a significant number of children.

Though the industry is illegal, most firearms produced here are sent to other parts of the country or even to beyond Pakistan’s borders.

The town also attracts many local and foreign tourists, adding to Dara Adam Khel’s renown with videos and photos they take and shared on social media.

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