Pakistan

‘Ban on houbara bustard hunting affecting Pakistan’s relations with Gulf states’

ISLAMABAD: The government has finally opened up against ban on hunting houbara bustard by foreign dignitaries before the Supreme Court, arguing that the ban was affecting Pakistan’s relations with the Gulf states.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in its petition seeking a review of court verdict of October 19, said “falconry is a significant feature of Pakistan’s relations with Middle Eastern countries. Falconry is not merely a sport for Arabs, but also one of their most cherished customs and recognised as a cultural heritage by Unesco.”

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, had ordered the federal and provincial governments not to grant licences or permits to hunt the endangered bird in the future.

The petition said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been giving invitations to Arab dignitaries for the sustainable hunting of the houbara bustard through falconry.

It also claimed that the foreign dignitaries brought with them considerable finances for the local people where they hunted.

The petition contended that under the provincial wildlife laws of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the respective provincial governments have statutory power to remove any category of wildlife from the schedule of protected animals.

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