Pakistan elite spend millions on armoured vehicles

Written by PTI | Islamabad | Updated: Feb 11 2014, 22:15pm hrs
With an increase in incidents of violence and kidnapping, Pakistan's elite class is spending millions buying armoured vehicles that can withstand shots fired from assault rifles and bomb attacks.

Analysts say armoured vehicles is the natural progression after turning private residences into fortresses with armed security personnel on guard round the clock.

"The business has gone up in the last 2-3 years. Armoured cars are used by various politicians, businessmen and top officials," a senior executive of the international armoured vehicle maker Streit Group told PTI.

Streit Group, which is said to be the world's largest armoured vehicle manufacturer, has set up a facility in Karachi and gets orders of about five vehicles every month.

According to industry sources, the cost of upgrading a normal sedan or an SUV can cost between Rs 40 lakhs to Rs 60 lakhs depending on the level of safety features.

This is over and above the initial cost of the car and the favourite here remains the Toyota SUVs.

However, seeing the demand, it is feared that many factories have sprung up without any licenses.

The Interior Ministry has said that such conversions are "totally illegal".

The Ministry spokesperson, in a statement, "warned the general public against the activities of such companies which are not authentic and are operating illegally".

He said that level of safety in such converted vehicles is not guaranteed and rather can put precious lives in danger.

He said that Ministry of Interior will take action against the companies involved "in this illegal business extorting huge money from their customers".

Ministry sources told PTI that every person who wants to get an armoured vehicle will first have to get a 'No Objection Certificate' from them which is given after a full review of threat perception.

Sources say issuance of such NOCs is negligible, especially in the tenure of current Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

The elite in Pakistan earlier mostly used imported bullet-proof cars. As per official figures, 155 individuals imported bullet-proof cars after paying duties and taxes during the last five years.

Almost all Embassies and High Commissions here use a fleet of armoured vehicles.

At least 41 bullet-proof vehicles were imported duty free by various embassies in the last five years.