Pakistan waives environmental laws, allows Qatari Royals to hunt endangered species

In order to appease Emir of Qatar and other members of the royal family, Pakistan offered a hunting expedition, permitting the royals to hunt endangered species, Houbara bustard. Pakistani media reported that the country issued special permits to the Emir of Qatar and nine other members of the royal family allowing them to hunt houbara bustards, whose total population is believed to be between 50,000 and 100,000. 

The Dawn News reported that Pakistan’s allotted hunting zone includes the region stretched of over three provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. The hunters are permitted to kill 100 houbara bustards in a 10-day safari, which is available during the three-month hunting season between November 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020. The country grants permits on individual basis.

There has been huge criticism throughout the country against the move, as it comes in conflict with the existing global environmental regulations. It is not only conservatives who condemn their hunting, but also farmers, as the large hunting parties damage their crops during their hunting expedition.

Houbara bustard, also known as the Asian Houbara, is a migratory bird which originally belongs to the colder central Asian region. It migrates southwards every year to relatively warmer regions like Pakistan in order to avoid harsh winters of Central Asia.

The hunting of these rare breed of chicken-sized birds is officially banned in Pakistan. But in order to get funds from the rich Qataris, Pakistani government conveniently bends the rules and offers the Arab royals the exotic Houbara bustard hunting trips.

As per the report, the poaching permit is granted every year to at least 25 to 35 individuals, mostly belonging to the Arab royal families. The permit for the 2019-20 hunting season, was issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol, Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz. Among the permit holders for this year were Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, his uncle, brother and seven other royal dignitaries of the oil-rich Gulf nation.

The bird with the dwindling population is considered to be a prized possession, especially in the Middle East, as it carries a price tag of USD 100,000.

For some years, Pakistan has been using the hunting stunt as a foreign policy tool to get money out of rich Arab nations for its crawling economy and to feed different wings of terrorist organisations residing in its pockets. This violation of environmental laws also reflects Qatari mentality which is already comfortable with violating the human rights at their home front in case of migrated labour.

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