American taxpayers are unwittingly arming the enemy.
PESHAWAR — Sophisticated US-made arms, either snatched from foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan, or sold out by cash-strapped Afghan soldiers, have flooded the arms markets in Pakistan’s northern tribal belt and are in high demand too.
“We have various kinds of US-made arms, which we procure from Afghan arms smugglers,” an arms dealer from the town of Darra Adamkhel in Pakistan’s western frontier province (NWFP) told IslamOnline.net.
Darra Adamkhel, virtually the arms factory of the tribal areas, is also the hub of illegal shipments of weapons throughout the country and one of the biggest private arms’ markets in Asia.
Till a few years back, China-made weapons and their replicas undisputedly ruled the tribal arms markets.
But after the arrival of stolen US-made arms, the sale of Chinese weapons has reduced to a great extent.
“The (US-made) weapons, we procure, are usually stolen from the warehouses of the US troops,” the arms dealer said.
Not only stolen, the arms are also sold out by Afghan army soldiers who need money.
“A number of Afghan police personnel have sold their pistols to the arms smugglers, who later smuggle them into tribal arms markets.
“In southern and northeastern Afghanistan particularly, Afghan soldiers sell their weapons, provided by US, to the arms smugglers, and report to their high-ups that their weapons were snatched by Taliban,” the arms dealer added.
“Many of them have replaced their actual weapons by replicas made in Pakistani tribal arms market.”
Arms dealers say that US-made weapons are now available across the tribal belt where they find a thriving market.
Until last year, the M-4 rifle was the only US-made arm that made its way to the tribal arms market. Not, other types and more sophisticated pistols are abundant, arms dealers say.
“Now, new rifles are also available with the arms dealers,” said one arms dealer
Pistols along with night vision equipment, lasers, silencers, and torches are all available in arms markets.
A M-4 rifle fitted with night vision equipment, silencer and torch is available at 1 million Rs ($12,000), while smith-n-vision pistol fitted with silencer is being sold at 70 Rs ($800).
The arms dealers admit that local Taliban militants, who are engaged in fighting Islamabad forces in different parts of the tribal areas, are among their customers.
“Taliban are also fond of these weapons, especially M-4 rifle.
“But because of the higher prices, they do not buy in abundance”, the arms dealer said.
“We deal with small Taliban groups. The major Taliban groups based in South and North Waziristan buy the stolen weapons directly from Afghan arms smugglers.”
The Pakistani army has warned that US weapons stolen from Afghanistan were being used against security forces in the restive Swat valley and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas has said the US should stop worrying about the Islamabad nukes and start thinking about the weapons lost in Afghanistan.