Procurement: Taking Cash To The Arms Market

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September 17, 2008: In Pakistan, the government has provided tribal paramilitary troops with over a million dollars in cash to buy weapons and ammunition in local arms markets. This is happening in the tribal territories along the Afghan border. The Taliban have been trying to take control of the region, and government forces, and many pro-government (or at least anti-Taliban) tribes have been going after the Taliban gunmen. The tribal territories tolerate gun markets, where everything from assault rifles to RPGs and heavy machine-guns are available for sale. Reasonable prices, too. A lot of the stuff is handmade, the tribal gunsmiths having a long tradition of being able to copy just about any weapon (as long as it's not too exotic tech-wise.) The government wants to equip friendly tribesmen to help deal with the Taliban, and sending the cash not only arms more of their guys, but also denies lots of weapons to the Taliban. The gun merchants are not political, and will sell to anyone.

In this region, the Pushtun tribes have always been allowed more autonomy than any other group in the country. Ancient traditions are the law. A special set of regulations apply in the tribal areas, and tribal elders play the role of judges (and prosecutors and juries as well). The army and national police tread carefully outside the few cities in the border region. A major source of government control in the tribal areas is the locally recruited Frontier Constabulary and Frontier Corps. These heavily armed police mainly guard the border and are used to help control tribal and clan wars. The tribal elders are often unable to settle these feuds, or at least not quickly. The Taliban have largely ignored tribal elders, or any other authority figures. When you are on a Mission From God, you can do that.