The Pakistan province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is banning sales of toy guns in hopes that the absence of such toys will help fight “extremist tendencies” in children. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is a north-western province “near the Afghan border.”
According to Malaysian newspaper The Sun, provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani said that “millions of toy guns are smuggled into the province from neighbouring China every year,” and he believes they “[add] to children’s vulnerability to extremist tendencies.”
Ghani said the sale of toy guns is being banned incrementally. It is occurring “initially in one key district and for the Muslim festival of Eid and then permanently.”
Gun sales increase sharply during the Eid festival, which marks the end of the Ramadan fast. Children run through the streets holding “replicas of assault rifles like AK-47s, G-3s, sub-machine guns and several kind of pistols are easily found in Pakistan’s markets.” They act out scenes about which they have heard or read, or seen on TV. These are often scenes involving soldiers and militants.
Psychologist Sadia Abassi lives in Peshawar. He says the behavior of the children is the cumulative outcome “of exposure to violence and availability of toy guns.” He suggests, “These kids will not hesitate if they have real arms.”
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