Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Gunsmiths of Peshawar

The Michael Palin documentary last night showed a fascinating insight into a part of the World unfamiliar to most Westerners. His travels along the Himalayas started off in Peshawar (North-West Pakistan) close to the Khyber Pass and the border with Afghanistan. It was not surprising that one of the main local industries was guns but the numerous small "Mum and Dad" gunshops were not selling the wares of perfidious European gun-runners. Everything they sold was made locally by hand.

But these weapons were a very far cry from the handmade guns associated with PNG Raskols or Solomon Island warlords. They were made to the same specifications (and I suspect to much better quality) as their official military equivalents. You could buy anything from a hand-crafted AK47 to a micro-miniaturised "James Bond" gun concealed in a pen.

If anyone ever manages to fabricate a weapon of mass destruction from a few aluminium pipes then, for my money, it will be the gunsmiths of Peshawar.

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