Pakistan to arm civilians with 30,000 captured insurgent rifles

The AFP reports that Pakistan will be distributing 30,000 confiscated rifles amongst villagers under the “Village Defence Rifle” programme:

Under the “Village Defence Rifle” programme, chief minister Ameer Haider Hoti has ordered the distribution of rifles among “peaceful individuals and organised groups,” a statement issued by Hoti’s office said.

“The move is aimed at increasing cooperation between people and police to check the activities of terrorists and saboteurs,” it said.

The cache of 30,000 rifles to be distributed among villagers had been confiscated by police from “terrorists and anti-social elements” and guns would be taken back if not used against militants, the statement said.

I think this is a good common sense approach to preventing Taliban encroachment into Pakistan. I hate reading about rifles and other small arms captured in Afghanistan and Iraq being destroyed when citizens are at risk of insurgent attacks.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Sean Nack

    that actually might be a really bad idea, based on the following:

    1) the northwest of the country wants to establish sharia law, the east doesn’t necessarily share their fervor; so are they arming the more moderate citizens against the more radical ones? that sounds like the beginning of a civil war in a nuclear state. not a thrilling prospect.

    2) who determines who gets the weapons? the elected government, who’d like to think they were in charge of the country? the military leadership, who frequently feel they know better than the elected gov’t (two military coups in 30 yrs, remember)? the pakistani intelligence service, isi, who is known for a fact to have supported al qaeda and taliban against americans in the past (we killed one during an attack on our fob, had an id card and everything)? the pashtun tribal leadership, the only authority a lot of the pashtun recognize, who also support the taliban?

    3) finally and most obviously, what if they give these folks these guns, and they turn against the pakistanis?

    anyway you cut it, to me, it sounds like the beginning of a disaster.

  • Matt Groom

    Every time I found a pile of crushed and burned AKs when we were in Iraq, I felt a pang of sadness like seeing a dead kitten on the side of the road. It annoyed me to no end that these captured and destroyed weapons could have been put to good use were destroyed as a matter of convienence, especially because I knew it would be my taxes that would be used to buy new rifles for the Iraqis.

    This is a most excellent thing the Pakistanis are doing, but it would be naive to believe that none of those captured arms won’t end up back in the hands of the Taliban. But at least this way, there is a paper trail.

  • jdun1911

    The Taliban is base in Pakistan. While this is admirable one would think this is not needed because the border areas has no shortage of arms. So I have to wonder, are the Pakistan government giving arms to the Taliban in pretext of stopping Taliban encroachment?

  • Valhalla

    Good point Sean Nack, but destroying 30k rifles just means fewer rifles. They’d get weapons some way, might as well arm a few families to protect themselves.

  • Steve,

    The Pakistanis are using a technique used by the Indians across their borders in doing this. The Indian government sets up Village Defence Committees in what are declared as “disturbed areas” and it actually arms and trains those whom it regards as loyal to the Indian state and who are vulnerable to either terrorists in the Kashmir region or to Naxalite Communists in other parts of the country. The policy has actually worked quite well in containing terrorism and human rights groups, (surprise, surprise!) have complained bitterly about the arming of law abiding citizens in India.

    I am not very sure that this method would work to the same degree in Pakistan, though, because India has very restrictive gun ownership laws. The access that terrorist groups have to guns is itself limited to what is smuggled from other countries, notably Nepal which has a Naxalite government and Pakistan or Bangladesh, putting the Village Defence Committees on a more or less even keel with the terrorists.

    In Pakistan all governments have allowed the freedom of owning guns (including full auto firearms) since that country became independent of British rule. If Pakistani citizens actually wanted to fight the Taliban, they probably could do this even without being armed by the government. In fact, pro government tribes in Pakistan have been very effective in bashing the Taliban wherever the two have clashed. This will be interesting to watch – I hope that the Pakistani government succeeds because it would be a message to the rest of the world that arming decent people is a good thing in this dangerous age.

  • One wishes that the US .gov would say “gee, that’s a good idea, and lookit this pile of M4s we have ready to go to the burn pile”. . .

  • Arming local irregulars is a proven counterinsurgency strategy. Armed Supportive Groups should be encouraged to help in the fight against Armed Opposition Groups.

    The Pashtun tribes are already armed with RPG’s, DaShKas, AK’s, SKS’s, Lee-Enfields, and all kind of artisanal knock offs banged out in home workshops in places like Dara Adam Khel. Arming supportive groups with higher quality, serial-number recorded arms would have been an encouragement to join.

  • It is disturbing. I do not like this idea of arming people who can not be kept in check, whether they are Indian, Pakistani or from any where in the world. It makes the world more dangerous than it is already, proven counterinsurgency or not. Power corrupts they say, and arms=power in this world.