ISLAMABAD: An environmentalist challenged on Wednesday the issuing of licences or permits for hunting the rare migratory bird, houbara bustard, before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Environmentalist Waheed Mehmood Khan, through his counsel Yasir Chaudhry, is seeking directions for government officials to stop issuing licences and permits for the hunting of migratory birds, to foreign dignitaries.
The petitioner maintained before IHC Justice Athar Minallah that hunting the houbara bustard was banned in Pakistan since the bird was internationally-protected. It is considered endangered and is also listed in the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Bonn Convention. The ministry of foreign affairs has been named respondents in the petition.
Foreign Ministry accused of issuing licences to foreign dignitaries in contravention of
Earlier, the IHC registrar had raised objections over the petition and directed the petitioner to attach copies of the subject permits or licences with the petition.
On Wednesday, the petitioner’s counsel argued that the licences were issued to foreign dignitaries and the record of licenses is inaccessible to the petitioner.
The court then removed the objection and accepted the petition for regular hearing. The petition will be fixed for hearing during the next week.
The petition stated that being a wildlife lover, the complainant was deeply affected by the issuance of permits to foreign dignitaries, allowing them the hunting of migratory bird with wanton disregard for the Constitution and the prevailing wildlife laws of the country. Pakistan, he said, is considered a winter home for the houbara bustard. As the winter sets in, the bustard arrives here from Central Asia, Russian Siberia and Mongolia as temperatures there drop below freezing. The birds then migrate back to their native lands in March and April.
The petition maintained that every year, foreign dignitaries visited Pakistan and obtained hunting permits from the respondent ministry, despite a complete ban on hunting the endangered species and asked that issuing of special hunting licences and permits should be declared illegal.
The petition pointed out that the foreign permit holders sometimes brought falcons with them to hunt the houbara bustard.
The respondent ministry, the petition maintained, also issues permits for the temporary import of falcons and their subsequent re-export.
Published in Dawn February 12th , 2015