Celebratory Gunfire

How would you react if some hard forensic investigation in a totally non-related event reveals you are a murderer?

Hopefully, it will shake the ground under your feet?

But the fact that you had committed that murder during a celebration fervor may surprise you further.

As per Wikipedia, regions highlighted in the following picture have common trend of celebratory gunfire.

Pakistan faces this menace to the public security on number of times, Following list is not exhaustive.

  • Personal celebrations – Birth, Marriages
  • Public celebrations – Cricket Match, National Days, Election days
  • Religious festivities – sighting of moon of the new Islamic Calendar Month and related Eid festivals,Christmas, New Year
  • Anger – Assassination aftereffects of a political leader and/or religious figure , failure in elections, failure in cricket matches

Sadly, the religion and culture that calls for peace, could not bring this habit down.

Be it highly volatile port city of Karachi or a distant village celebration in any area of Pakistan, the celebratory firing takes its toll in many forms.

Almost a dozen or two injuries and casualties are reported after key events.There is no standard data collection in this area apart from usual newspaper reports. As Mariya Karimjee , puts it well in her 2014 article on the subject published on PRI.org

There’s no organization tallying up the injuries and deaths, and records on the number of people killed by stray bullets are impossible to find.

Results are at times immediate – death of a relative, neighbour, guest or family member. Most of the times, results are haphazard leading to reported and unreported firearm injuries having no known links – thanks to the stray bullets that land at various places.

For those who think that stray bullets or injuries linked to celebratory gunfire, this Forensic Outreach Team article will help one understand, all technicalities behind this issue.

This leads to high profile controversies too – like the firing on a landing flight twice during 2014 at Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar with first being a deadly one and second remaining untraced.

Interesting is to note the official responses, that celebratory firing is common to this area, which is also harshly hit area in Pakistan’s war on terror. This clearly exhibits the ignorance level about the issue.

The ignorance level regarding this issue is very high both at public and policy makers end.

Public outcry to the issue is limited to few tweets, a letter to editor and a call for legislation which remains unheard.

The harsh fact besides ignorance is high number of legal and illegal firearms across Pakistan and especially in its erratic economic hub Karachi. As per GunPolicy.org, Pakistan seems to have privately owned firearms 9 times higher than owned by its defence and law enforcement agencies. Even if we take this data as exaggerated or misreported, Pakistan has almost 1.5 times more number of licenced firearms than carried by its police.

Something, as per above facts and figures, is terribly wrong. Amidst safety and security challenges Pakistan faces, the celebratory gunfire culture must be shunned. A lot has to be done including disarmament, legislation to public awareness.

Noted journalist and writer , Mubashir Ali Zaidi also wrote about this menace in his famous 100 word stories written in Urdu.

Also, random public appeals are also made, which go in vain

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