LANDI KOTAL: By Our Correspondent (Dawn)
Sunday, 23 Aug, 2009
The arms stolen and snatched from American forces in Afghanistan have flooded arms markets in tribal areas and are in high demand, sources say.
According to the information gathered from arms dealers in Khyber and Darra Adamkhel, the US-made M-4, M-16 and Smith-n-Vison 9mm pistols along with night vision equipment, lasers, silencers and torches are available in abundance in the arm markets of tribal areas.
Sources said that those arms were being smuggled to tribal areas from Khost province of Afghanistan via Miramshah in South Waziristan. ‘But such weapons are not displayed openly in regular arms markets of the tribal areas,’ they added.
They said that the sale and purchase of such weapons was done secretly for fear of arrest by the government agencies. ‘Most of the deals are finalised by cellular phones,’ a source in Jamrud told Dawn.
Arms dealers said that the US-made weapons were either stolen from arms warehouses in Afghanistan or snatched from American forces.
Among the illegally brought weapons, M-4 rifles are the most sought after weapon by arms lovers and users in tribal areas and NWFP. Militant organisations are also fond of the weapon. Sources said that in the beginning only used M-4 rifles were available with arms dealers but now new rifles had also made its way to the arms markets in Fata.
‘The M-4 rifle has surpassed its demand for another US-made M-16 rifle,’ they added. A dealer told Dawn that an M-4 rifle fitted with night vision equipment, laser, silencer and torch was available for Rs1 million, mostly depending upon its condition.
A used weapon of the similar brand could be purchased for Rs600,000 to Rs750,000, sources said adding that an M-4 rifle without additional accessories was available for Rs450,000 to Rs500,000.
Similarly, the price of M-16 rifle[s] ranges between Rs250,000 and Rs300,000. ‘But this weapon has few buyers these days,’ sources said. These sources, requesting not to be named, said that most Afghan police personnel had sold their Smith-n-Vison 9mm pistols in the black markets and had replaced them with its replicas made in Darra Adamkhel arms market. Prices of these US-made pistols range from Rs70,000 to Rs90,000 depending upon its condition.
It was also learnt that in keeping with growing demand and high prices of the American weapons, some arms dealers had imported their Chinese versions from China few month ago. But real arms lovers have little faith in the Chinese version of these weapons which are considerably cheaper than the original ones.
‘The price difference of American and Chinese made weapons is more than fifty per cent,’ said an arms dealer based in Bara. While the American weapons are in high demand, original Russian made assault rifle Kalashnikov has almost vanished from local markets. ‘People are ready to pay Rs150,000 for one such rifle,’ said an interested buyers in Wazir Dhand arms market in Jamrud.
It was also learnt that Chinese made Kalashnikov had also registered a hike in its price during the last six years. Chinese Kalashnikov were sold at as low as Rs5,000 few years back but now even used rifles are available for more then Rs50,000. The price of a brand new Chinese Kalashnikov is as high as Rs130,000.
A magazine of ten rounds of Kalashnikov was available for only Rs10 some six years back but now its price has risen to Rs300 per magazine.
Rs 100 = 1.16576 US$, so knock a couple of zeroes off the Rs figures above to get an acceptable conversion.