Pakistani children playing with gun toys. (Photo: Shahab ur Rahman)

Pakistani children playing with gun toys. (Photo: Shahab ur Rahman)

Playing out the violence these children see on TV and in local films --- a group of boys fight each other on the street.

They raise their plastic life-like guns and fire toy bullets at each other.  If shot they stage a dramatic death.

15 year old Muhammad Asif is one of them. He spent his pocket money on a plastic AK-47.

“We play and imitate Pashto film heroes. We open fire at each other to entertain ourselves,” he said

His friend 14 year old Mohammad Yasin rushes over to show off his gun.

“This is called a Shaheengun. This gun can trigger six bullets at a time,” he said.

While it’s a common game here there is growing concern about the long-term impact of such games.

Three years ago a campaign to ban toy guns was launched by Civil Societies. The POHA foundation is campaigning against toy guns.

Group leader Ibrahim Aliengar saying after using a toy gun, a child can easily use a real one.

“If a child is taught to drive then he will be keen to drive a car. It’s the same with guns.  Toy Guns attract children to violence,” he said.

His group worked with parents and Islamic clerics to pressure the government to bring in a ban on toy guns.

As of last month it’s now illegal to sell the toy guns in Peshawar. Police have been conducting raids at various markets to stop the trade

“Huge quantity of these guns was confiscated. Police have the power to arrest the people involved in illegal business of selling toy guns. Parents should given pens to their children instead of guns, they are pushing them towards violence,” said Mumtaz Ahmad the Assistant Commissioner in Peshawar.

But in the Qissa Khwani bazar it’s easy to find toy guns still for sale.

Seller Ajab Khan says he has not been affected by the ban.

“I am selling toy pistols. The government hasn’t stopped us. We can’t do anything. Children should just fire in the air not at each other,” he said.

But some parents like Norullah Khan say they have changed their views because of the campaign and now no longer buy toy guns.

“These replica guns are very hazardous for the children. Some of them have broken streets lights. They may hit each other in the eyes. My children now want helicopters and other toys,” he said.

Campaigners are now pushing the government to ban the import of toys guns that come mainly from China. They say that’s the only way the ban can be enforced.

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