Center for Illegal Arms Manufacturers in Pakistan


About 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Islamabad, the northeast town of Darra Adam Khel has been the center of the illegal arms trade in this corner of the world for more than 150 years.

Various types of firearms made in houses and workshops in the city are sold in more than 2,000 stores.

It is estimated that more than 25,000 people are involved in the manufacture of weapons, including pistols, specialized sniper rifles and automatic pistols.

Armed conflicts in the region and the lack of state authority until 2018 have played a major role in the rise of the illegal arms trade in the city.

Read more: Illegal industry thrives in Pakistan despite firearm import ban

A counterfeit gun can be cheaper than a cellphone in Darra Adam Khel, where most fake guns start at around 30,000 Pakistani rupees ($160).

A knockoff AK-47, one of the nation’s most in-demand firearms, costs around $110.

Besides guns, customers can also find different types of bullets, magazines, body armor, binoculars and other equipment.

Here, workshops are usually attached to stores selling weapons. While a gunsmith can make a gun in a few hours, producing a rifle can take up to six days.

Many gunsmiths, however, are killed due to the dangerous use of outdated technology and machinery.

Resident Mohammad Awais confirmed that gunpowder is a major cause of these deaths, especially in hot weather.

Yet the industry is a major source of income for many townspeople, he said, adding that the arms trade also employs a significant number of children.

Although the industry is illegal, most firearms produced here are sent to other parts of the country or even beyond the borders of Pakistan.

The city also attracts many local and foreign tourists, adding to Dara Adam Khel’s fame with videos and photos they take and share on social media.

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