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Weapons Smuggling in Pakistan: Killing is my business… And business is good!

Down this innocuous looking street pictured below, in a quiet industrial area of Peshawar, Pakistan, lies a cutting-edge operation, global in nature and acutely reflective of the latest trends in world politics… This is an operation with far more influence in the world than its relatively small size or remote location would suggest. And an operation, the likes of which, many governments and various NGOs have struggled to close down.

I was only here because of a very well-connected contact in Pakistan. And even as such, he was told to never bring visitors again. I promised not to reveal the location and I stand by that commitment.

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The organization is to be found behind these gates… And the only marker out front is a particularly misleading one:

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You see, this is a gun smuggling operation… The organization is vertically integrated to maintain a consistent product and to be able to respond as quickly as possible to customer demands. The weapons are manufactured and shipped out from this facility, so that control is maintained over every aspect of production and distribution. Bribes are paid to the appropriate police officials and politicians (a cost of doing business) and much attention is paid to maintaining reliable access to suppliers of raw materials.

The owner/manager of this facility is quite pleasant and hospitable. Over a cup of green tea, I asked him how business was…

He chuckled and replied, “Killing is my business…And business is good!” I don’t know if he knew this is the title to a 1985 Megadeth album, but the irony of the statement was not lost on me…

Displaying a remarkable knowledge of current events, and frequently knowing in advance of many intelligence agencies and news organizations where violence will break out in the near future based on the level of arms shipments to the region, I’m sorry we don’t have someone like this on the payroll of the CIA rather than trying to shut them down.

The raw materials of death start here – the first workshop where slabs of stainless steel are shaped and molded:

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This lad is drilling steel:

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Into the basic handgun form:

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These shavings are from drilled steel, and are melted down and reused:

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Polishing down the newly crafted gun frames:

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Manufacturing components:

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Moving on to the next workshop, where the just manufactured parts are assembled, you descend these stairs…

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…Into this basement:

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Assembling a firearm:

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For 20,000 rupees (about $350) you could have one of your own:

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Components waiting to be assembled:

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Assembling the handguns:

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A load of weapons ready to ship out (disguised as another product). We were told these were going to Nigeria:

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Out on the test range:

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I felt compelled to do a little quality control test firing of my own with this shotgun… We can’t have customers receiving an inferior product can we?

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I’m not going to moralize about what these people are doing. This is life. Killing and conflict are a component of life and likely always will be. Shut this operation down and plenty of others will spring up to replace it.

Appreciate the insight into a slice of life one rarely sees…

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7 thoughts on “Weapons Smuggling in Pakistan: Killing is my business… And business is good!

  1. Pingback: The Mumbai Dossier « The Velvet Rocket

    • Haha. Yeah, I know it does look like that and I’ve been waiting for a Pakistani to call me out on that. However, I assure you that if you do go to the address listed on the sign, that it will not take you to the weapons factory.

  2. From C.J. Chivers for the New York Times…

    “The gunsmiths of Pakistan are a famous phenomenon, and have been widely documented over the past decades. In a network of small shops and factories along Pakistan’s western frontier, local tradesmen have for generations produced handmade copies of well-established infantry arms, and helped keep Pashtun tribesmen supplied. Their weapons are available, along with original items (often pilfered from government units), in local bazaars. “

  3. The shotgun pictured is actually not a copy of the saiga-12. The only similarity is it being fed by a detachable magazine, instead of the “under barrel” type tube magazines used by most western manufacturers. It looks to be a copy of a Remington semi-auto shotgun, but just adapted to use a different style magazine. Ingenious none the less.

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