The Islamabad Airport Security Force apprehended a US citizen trying to board a plane with loaded guns on Thursday. This makes it the second such incident this year, the last one occurring in May at Karachi airport when an alleged FBI agent was caught by security personnel with bullets and a knife in his luggage. In that instance, the issue was swept under the carpet, and speedy bail granted to the accused before anybody could make much of a fuss. No charges were pressed, even though the maximum penalty for carrying illicit firearms without asking for special permission by the government is up to seven years in prison.

The Raymond Davis incident and the government’s inaction is still fresh in the minds of the public. William John, the man caught in Islamabad with 9mm pistols and at least six rounds of ammunition, is supposedly a security trainer in the US embassy. He was handed over to the police and released on bail after a few hours. But really, why the repeated clearance and security lapses? In these times, how is it possible to accidentally put a loaded weapon in one’s luggage? Why was there a gun on him in the first place? Why would he even consider carrying a gun through security checks at a high security airport if he did not think it was possible? And who is going to hold him to account for it?

This is akin to the government failing to establish its writ. One phone call from Washington cannot be all it takes to absolve American agents and officials from carrying loaded weapons on civilian airplanes. It is unimaginable, and it undermines our legal channels and the authorities meant to safeguard laws. If there is ever a repeat of the Raymond Davis incident, then the government and its failure to deter foreign nationals from carrying firearms will share responsibility with whoever pulls the trigger.