ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday imposed ban on the issuance of permits and licenses for the hunting of endangered birds and also ordered the cancellation of all existing permits in this regard.
A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Justice Jawad S Khawaja ordered the cancellation of all licences issued by the federal government to Arab royals for the hunting of Houbara bustard.
The apex court ordered cancellation licenses and permits alloted to Arabs and other foreigners hunting for the rare houbara bustard and other birds in the country.
The Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, appreciated the K-P government’s for refusing a request from the Foreign Office to issue permits to royals and for Qatari prince after he was caught with three falcons.
The apex court also appreciated the K-P government’s stance on prohibiting dignitaries from hunting the endangered species in the province.
The PTI-led Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Ministry of Environment fined a Qatari prince Rs80,000 after he was caught with three falcons in Dera Ismail Khan.
The KP government had already submitted its reply in the apex court stating that it had refused a request from the Foreign Office to issue permits to royals.
The bench dismissed all other petitions opposing Zahoor-ul-Haq’s petition, including an application filed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl provincial deputy chief Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman of the Balochistan government.
The elder from Balochistan was of the view that permitting foreign dignitaries to hunt the bird brought prosperity and welfare not only to the people, but also the province.
“The dignitaries who come to hunt the bird have not only established certain projects but are also paying Rs10 million for hunting 50 birds in season,” Attaur Rehman had said through his counsel, Advocate Adnan Bhasharatullah, adding that the province earned approximately Rs2 billion every hunting season.
Aamir Zahoor-ul-Haq’s petition requested the court to restrain the foreign affairs ministry and the wildlife department from issuing permits and licences for hunting of the endangered birds.
The petitioner had also asked the court to order the setting up of an independent commission to look into the alleged abrogation of their “statutory duty” by the respondents and violation of the provisions of permits and licences by the VIP hunters.
The petition recalled that Pakistan had imposed a permanent ban on the hunting of houbara bustards under the Third Schedule of the Pakistan Wildlife Ordinance 1971, after declaring the species a protected bird. But despite the ban, licences or permits were being issued to VIP dignitaries of the Gulf States for hunting the species.
The petition cited media reports and said as many as 33 special permits had been granted to the foreign dignitaries for hunting of the species during the year 2013-14, specifically allocating areas in the country’s four provinces for the purpose.