KARACHI: The federal government has issued at least seven special permits to dignitaries of Bahrain, including King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, to hunt the internationally protected bird houbara bustard in the country during the 2016-17 hunting season, according to sources.

Among those who have been given the permits to hunt the migratory bird in Sindh and Balochistan are an uncle of the king, his defence adviser, a field marshal and armed forces chief, and other members of the Bahraini royal family, according to the sources.

The sources said that not only was Pakistan a signatory to various international nature conservation conventions that restricted the bird’s hunting but the country’s wildlife protection laws also prohibited its killing. The Pakistanis were, therefore, not allowed to hunt the protected species.

The hunting permits signed by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol, Naeem Iqbal Cheema, have been sent to the members of the Bahraini royal family through Bahrain’s embassy in the federal capital.

The letter Mr Cheema sent to the Gulf kingdom’s diplomatic mission in Islamabad says: “The ministry of foreign affairs of Pakistan presents its compliments to the Embassy of Kingdom of Bahrain in Islamabad and has the honour to state that the government of Pakistan has conveyed its recommendations to the authorities in the provinces concerned for allocation of following areas to the dignitaries of Kingdom of Bahrain for hunting of houbara bustard for the season 2016-17.”

According to the letter, King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa has been allocated Jamshoro district (Thano Bula Khan, Kotri, Manjhand and Sehwan tehsils) in Sindh.

The king’s uncle, Sheikh Ebrahim bin Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, has been allocated Shah Bandar tehsil and Janabad and Sonda union councils in Thatta district. The king’s defence adviser, Sheikh Abdullah bin Salman Al-Khalifa, will hunt birds in Jati tehsil of Thatta district.

Field Marshal and Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Forces Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa will hunt the bird in Toisar tehsil of Musakhel district in Balochistan. The king’s first cousin and interior minister, Lt Gen Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, will hunt the migratory bird in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2016

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