Assault weapons outlawed in Pakistan

A Ruger AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, center, the same model, though in gray rather than black, used by the shooter in a Texas church massacre two days earlier, sits on display with other rifles on a wall in a gun shop, in this Nov. 7, 2017 photo, in Lynnwood, Wash. (AP)
Updated 13 November 2017

Assault weapons outlawed in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has officially suspended all automatic weapons licenses issued since the 1970s with immediate effect in “public interest,” except to some state security agencies. Previous attempts have failed.
Security expert Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa told Arab News 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 told Arab News: “If the suspension is impartially implemented, I fully support it.”
He added: “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: “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 added: “The federal government will seize all automatic weapons and in return, compensate the people.”

Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018

Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”