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Tiger, tiger burning bright

May 09, 2013

It may sound ludicrous, but the tiger metaphor is all-important for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The Sharif brothers often refer to themselves as ‘shers’ (tigers), the election symbol of the party is a tiger and more often that not, a rare white tiger belonging to a proud party worker is seen regularly at the party’s rallies.

On Wednesday, reports came in that the white tiger in question, which happens to be part of a rare species, suffocated in the heat of Lahore and died after being taken to the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore.

In the meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz denied on Twitter that the tiger was dead, while a doctor contradicted others at the university and also said the tiger was well – but the poor animal is still nowhere to be seen and confusion remains.

Either way, the episode calls into question how the tiger was being used at the rally, in conditions that were nowhere near approximate to his natural habitat. According to WWF, white tigers are endangered and are extremely sensitive to heat and noise. A rally at the peak of summer in Punjab is likely to be noisy and suffocating.

Animal rights are generally completely neglected in Pakistan. The WWF is supporting a petition, filed by animal rights activist and actress Faryal Gauhar, before the Lahore High Court against the PML-N.

What do you think can be done to improve animal rights in Pakistan, a country where a large section of the human population even doesn’t have access to basic rights? Is it the PML-N’s fault that the animal in question suffered? What kind of laws can be passed to ensure this doesn't happen again?

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