Where free markets and fundamentalists converge

Well, the news from Darra Adam Khel is that Kalashnikov prices are going up. Ordinarily, these rifles are always in demand in the tribal areas as no self-respecting adult Pashtun tribesman could be seen in public without one. But demand, it turns out, is shooting through the roof.

Kalashnikovs are getting dearer

Photo: Valerio Pandolfo

Darra Adam Khel, a small town in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, ‘consists of one main street lined with shops, with some alleys and sidestreets containing workshops’. Almost all the shops and the workshops are involved in the business of small, and not-so-small, arms. Officially, you need a permit to get there. Officially, you will not be issued with one.

Well, the news from Darra is that Kalashnikov prices are going up. Ordinarily, these rifles are always in demand in the tribal areas as no self-respecting adult Pashtun tribesman dare be seen in public without one. But demand, it turns out, is shooting through the roof. Prices of new rifles have doubled, to Rs 50,000 now. Used Kalashnikovs fetch Rs 35,000. Thanks to the escalation of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, supply of second-hand rifles has petered out and while demand has taken off. Prices of complementary goods have also risen: ammunition, rocket launchers and military apparel have become more expensive.

Americans and insurgencies are good news for Darra. It was, after all, America’s first war in Afghanistan helped modernise its arms industry with capital and technology.

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