Reportedly, the federal government has issued special permits to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and two other members of the Saudi ruling family to hunt the internationally protected Houbara bustards during the hunting season 2020-21. Unlikely, Houbara is a diplomatic asset for Pakistan.
As per reliable sources, the two other hunters are governors and one of them is a defaulter as he has not paid the hunting fees/dues for last year (hunting season 2019-20). Additionally, the hunters had been allocated certain hunting areas in two provinces; Balochistan and Punjab.
The hunting permits issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol (P&I) delivered to the Saudi Embassy to send to the hunters.
According to the permits issued on Oct 16, 2020, the names of the hunters and areas allotted to them. The Layyah and Bhakkar districts in Punjab are allocated to the Saudi crown prince, deputy premier, and minister for defense.
HRH Prince Fahad bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Governor of Tabuk- allocated district Awaran, district Noshki (less Noshki city), and district Chaghai (excluding Nok Kundi) in Balochistan. On the other hand, HH Prince Mansour bin Mohammad S. Abdul Rehman Al-Saud, Governor of Hafr Al-Batin- allocated Dera Ghazi Khan district in Punjab.
Double standards of the premier transpire
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan, when in the opposition, used to criticize the former federal government for issuing Houbara hunting permits. More so, he had not allowed its hunting in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-K), where his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ruled. However, now he himself issued the permits to hunters from Saudi Arabia.
Oh, the unapologetic double standards!
Owing to its endangerment, the Houbara is protected under various international nature conservation treaties. Not only that but it is also protected under local wildlife protection laws. In addition to this, Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt it.
In 2016, Pakistan’s supreme court lifted a ban on the hunting of a rare bird, the Houbara bustard. The government had asked the court to review the ban, saying it harmed relations with Arab states. Middle Eastern countries are a major source of sovereign investment in Pakistan. In fact, selling the hunters the required permits is lucrative in itself.
For decades dignitaries from the Gulf have been visiting Pakistan to hunt, as the number of Houbaras has dwindled in their own countries. That has given Pakistan a special opportunity to butter up Gulf rulers.
The hunters in the Middle East prize the bird, who consider its meat an aphrodisiac. The Houbara, which is about the size of a chicken, once flourished on the Arabian peninsula but now faces a high risk of extinction.
Pretty evidently, our government and Supreme Court do not seem interested in protecting the wild animals. Earlier, the government allowed the shipment of 150 Shaheen Falcons to UAE, despite the hunting ban on the endangered animals. And, PM’s aforementioned contradicting tweet confused Pakistani.
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below.