The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Saturday rejected the request of the federal government to allow Qatari princes to hunt the houbara bustard in the province.

MPA Ishtiaq Urmar, an advisor to CM Pervaiz Khattak for Environment, Forests and Wildlife, told DawnNews he had received a letter from the interior ministry seeking permission for Qatari princes to hunt the protected bird which was refused.

The federal government's request was refused as the houbara bustard is a rare and protected bird, Urmar said.

"Following the 18th Amendment, provinces are sovereign in taking such decisions," Urmar said, adding that "strict action will be taken against those found hunting rare animals and birds."

The houbara bustard is not only protected under various international conventions and agreements signed by Pakistan but its hunting is also banned under the local wildlife protection laws.

Sources earlier told Dawn newspaper that while the other three provinces — Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan — allowed Arabs with permits to hunt the houbara bustards, KP did not. They added that a while ago, a Qatari who had been hunting in the province had been caught and fined.

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