The security situation in Pakistan is in shambles. People are experiencing daily violence and terror independent of their location. The police isn’t up to the task and has failed at many fronts in protecting the civilians. The military has now become the security provider of last resort from both external and internal threats. This is taxing the military’s resources as it not only has to look at external but now almost all internal security threats.
Too Many and Widely Dispersed
The entire security apparatus of the country is less than 5% of the total population. Not all of the military and police personnel are trained or capable of fighting off the terrorists and criminals. In effect there may be less than 1% who are available to protect 100% of the people. In a volatile country such as Pakistan the task is even harder. The density and dispersed geography of the population make it virtually impossible to respond to random and sudden attacks in a timely and effective fashion.
How can then people across the country be protected from a general breakdown in law and order and also from this specific threat of terrorism?
Right to Carry Arms
The simplest, non invasive, and quickest solution to protect people is to allow all citizens the right to carry arms. Your heard right! The right of people to protect themselves. The state has over the years put too many controls over carrying guns. This has lead to an over reliance on the state provided security which is now spreading thin. Now the idea here isn’t that a few are given special permits to carry a gun. The idea here is to fundamentally recognize the citizen’s right to protect him or herself without a special permit from the state to do so.
Before we have a look at the benefits lets first have a look at the general behavior of the people. Are most people on the street out to kill one another? I would say no, otherwise people can still use knives and other illegal weapons to do so. Most people are not willing or eager to kill, but are seriously concerned about protection for themselves and their families. They can’t protect themselves effectively because they don’t have the means of doing so when the terrorists strike.
When the playing field is even what’s the nature of people on balance? Are people more likely to be abusive or helpful? If they are abusive you’ve got your own gun to deter them. If they are friendly you’ve got no reason to worry. The threat is the bad guy, the terrorist, the aggressor, whose sole purpose isn’t to just kill anymore but to wreck havoc in our lives by spreading fear and terror.
Will even ten terrorists be able to kill hundreds of unarmed kids if the teachers also had guns? We don’t have an answer to that but we can concluded that it would be a bit tougher. With voluntary people protecting their own schools instead of sporadic security the results would dramatically change. Instead of waiting for security forces to get the message, gather the resources, create a plan, and then start doing something about it, now we would have on the spot retaliation by the good guys.
The Good Outnumber The Bad
Each bad is neutralized by having a lot more who are good. Self protection, self safety, without too much reliance on the state is the way forward. Over time people will get better at organizing and protecting themselves. No Hazaras would be pulled out of buses and deliberately shot. No car on the street would be so easy a target for muggings. No mother would hopelessly sit there hoping for someone else to intervene when her and her kid’s life is at stake.
The idea is to deter the terrorist by increasing their costs of performing terrorist acts. Government is trying to do it by increasing punishments and having more security and military courts. People can do in on the ground by ensuring they can retaliate and protect themselves until the real security forces arrive.
Imagine villages and towns having their own neighborhood watches. Every citizen a potential helper in case of trouble. People with choices tend to do things that are far more humane than what a government can compel them to do by force. We need to believe in our people’s desire to care for their own protection. We need to not render them unarmed like sheep and hope the few sheepdogs can prevent a pack of wolves from harassing and killing them at random. We already have private neighborhood watches in the form of private militias called the ‘Lashkars’. This concept can be expanded to smaller neighborhoods as well.
- Allow people the right to carry arms. No need to have licenses. Violence against another is a crime whether performed with a licensed or unlicensed weapon.
- Encourage creation of Neighborhood Watches where armed volunteers become the eyes and ears for the security forces.
All these actions will make it costly for terrorists to initiate violence against citizens. The problem of the suicide terrorist is also reduced as any citizen can at a moment’s notice neutralize the threat. People also feel hope return to their lives as they realize they are active participants in the kind of life they get to live. Relying on the state to provide everything isn’t how things work anymore. Military can refocus resources towards the eradication of terrorists instead of providing around the clock security.
We hold the future of the people of Pakistan in our hands. It’s a precious future. Unless we start thinking outside the box we’ll continue to wait and hope for things to improve instead of becoming active participants in bringing about a positive and meaningful change.