Good news for Arabs and Sharifs, ban lifted on hunting of ‘houbara bustard’

abdullan and nawz sharif

By Raza Ruman

( Arab Sheikhs will be back here soon for hunting — Reason — The Supreme Court today lifted a ban on the hunting of houbara bustard, a rare desert bird whose meat is prized among Arab sheikhs as an aphrodisiac.

It seems our ‘powerful’ judiciary has to oblige the government as our ‘weak’ government seems to have no other choice. After all, beggars cannot be choosers.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali announced the verdict on the review petitions filed by the federal and provincial governments against the ban. In a 4-1 majority ruling, the court lifted the ban on hunting of the endangered bird however, Justice Qazi Faez Isa wrote a dissenting note opposing the bench’s order.houbara bustard

The court held that there was “apparent error on the face of the record” and set aside its Aug 19 judgment. In its 16-page judgement, the top court said the “role of the judiciary is to interpret the laws and not to legislate”. “Examination of the laws clearly shows that permanent ban on hunting of houbara bustard is not envisaged.”

It is the provincial governments, the court said, which exercise discretionary power to classify animals as ‘protected’ or ‘game’ species. Balochistan Act, 2014 places houbara bustard both in protected and game animal categories, the court noted.

The Red List of International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) places houbara bustard in the category of “vulnerable” below “near threatened” and “least concern” categories and above “endangered”, “critically endangered”, “extinct in the wild” and“extinct” categories, the court said, adding that IUCN considers hunting primarily using falconry as a principal threat to its conservation.

“Even IUCN recognizes the sustainable use of the natural resources,” the court said, maintaining that “considering the economic backwardness of the areas where these migratory species land, it is very hard for conservation efforts to be successful without uplifting the economic well-being of those areas.”

houbara bustard1The Wildlife Department should take steps for the conservation of all threatened animals, the court said.

A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by then chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja had on August 19 banned hunting of the houbara bustard in a decision welcomed by wildlife campaigners and conservationists. The court also ordered the cancellation of all existing permits in this regard.

The ban had resulted from a petition that 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, licenses or permits were being issued to VIP dignitaries of Gulf states for hunting the species.

Now the Sharifs can happily invite their friends in Gulf and they must be feeling relieved at the decision of the apex court. Pakdestiny

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