Short documentary--arms market in Pakistan

Here’s a mini-documentary–you could consider it a short travelogue–on the arms market on the northwest border of Pakistan. This is a place where foreign journalists are not permitted to go. The guy who made the video had ties to an official in the area where the market is, which is how he got permission to enter, and he took his own private militia with him to protect him. Check it out:

I assume this is real. It certainly doesn’t seem fake to me.

It’s the situation in large parts of the world, yes.

We’re talking about the largest illegal arms market in the world, here, Mr. Moto. I think that counts as a pretty unusual place, and it’s probably a lot harder to get into–and more difficult and riskier to film in–than most other places that are illegal to visit.

Except for the scale of the enterprise, how is this qualitatively different than similar arms dealing in other parts of Asia, most of the continent of Africa, and areas of South America where central governments don’t have much local control?

Did you watch the video before responding, Mr. Moto? If so, I’d like to hear why you thought it was so utterly unremarkable. I’m interested in hearing your critique; maybe I should re-evaluate my own response to the video. And if you’ve seen any illegal arms markets in person, please tell us all about your experiences there; it would be fascinating to hear them!

Maybe this is only a reflection of how limited my experiences have been, but I thought this video was pretty interesting, and I think I was right to post the link to it it here. The videomaker gave us a quick look at the market that supplies weapons for a lot of armed conflict in the Middle East; does that really strike you as a dull subject? It was fascinating to see that some of the guns were made by hand from scrap metal (tanks left over from the war with the USSR), for example.

I saw it, sure, way before you linked to it.

I’ve never seen any arms markets of this type, no. But I have known some good gunsmiths, and I have seen lots of people do their own ammo reloading. That sort of thing is very common here.

Another thing that is common is the flooding of guns into a population during a civil war, or when the authority of the central government or the army of a country is severely compromised or vanishes entirely. I saw this myself when I was in the Navy and supported reconnaissance flights over Yugoslavia during the conflict there. We were able to stop the inflow of guns into that country pretty well, but the civil war and genocide were still fueled by stocks provided by the disintegration of the federal Yugoslavian Army.

A similar thing happens in Africa pretty regularly.

I do not want to politicize this thread, but these things are why I believe attempts to control guns as objects are doomed to failure. Much more promising is the establishment of political structures and the rule of law that make their use unappealing.

I saw this a few months ago as part of the [Vice Guide to Travel]( Remarkably enough, it was not the craziest thing in the line-up (which includes hunting in Chernobyl and looking for Dr. Mengele in South America). It’s actually a pretty amazing (and entertaining) documentary all around, though, like the magazine, it suffers from a bit of the ol’ frat boy mentality (Wow, thanks for enlightening us about the arms trade. Now what are you doing sitting in a den of prostitutes like it’s no big deal?)

Sitting in a den of prostitutes is a big deal?

I take it you’ve had a pretty interesting life. I’ve never sat in a den of prostitutes.

But I don’t think that the exoticism, or lack thereof, of hanging around in brothels is really what Cat Fight was getting at. Rather, he or she was pointing out that it’s a little weird to go from seeing images of the weapons market–a place that plays a pretty important role in major wars–to clips of people hanging out with hookers. What goes on in the weapons market affects you and me; what goes on in brothels has a much smaller effect. Treating the two things as though they’re of equal impact could be a bit disconcerting.

[hijack] I think I understand what you’re saying, Cat Fight. I had a similar experience while reading a list of the most important things to happen in Indian history, post-Independence. (I think the article with the list was in “India Today,” a magazine not known for its thoughtful analysis.) The magazine picked one event for each year since Independence as the most important event of that year.

One year’s most important event was the declaration of Emergency, an act that essentially suspended political democracy in Indian national politics. One of the most important events of the early 90’s, however, was the advent of shampoos and other liquids being sold in pouches, rather than little bottles. The idea of classifying these two occurrences in a single list of most important events in contemporary history was utterly absurd. [/hijack]

Anyway, I hope the video I posted wasn’t completely boring and old hat to all of you Dopers. If it was…ah, well. I’ll try to do better next time. Maybe I should be posting to the “You know you’re boring when…” thread.

What goes on in brothels has a pretty big effect. In most brothels in the world, nearly all of the women are in some form of servitude, and were trafficked there to provide this “service”. Huge and highly organized crime networks facilitate this, and in most parts of the world they are also involved with other nasty crimes that require good organization, like running drugs and guns.