KARACHI: The federal government has issued special permits to Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and nine other members of the royal family to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard during the 2019-20 hunting season, it has been learnt here reliably.

Among the permit holders are the emir’s uncle, his brother and other dignitaries of the tiny country located on the northern side of the Arabian peninsula along the coast of the Gulf. The allotted hunting areas are spread over three provinces — Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab — of the country.

The hunters can hunt 100 houbara bustards in a 10-day safari during the three-month hunting season between Nov 1, 2019 and Jan 31, 2020. The permit is person-specific.

Originally the inhabitant of the colder central Asian region, the houbara bustard, in order to avoid harsh weather conditions in its habitat, migrates southwards to spend the winter in a relatively warm environment here every year.

The bird has been placed on the list of threatened species

Keeping in view its dwindling population the migratory bird is not only protected under various international nature conservation treaties but its hunting is also banned under local wildlife protection laws. Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt this bird.

The federal government, however, specially invites royal Arab hunters to hunt it every year.

The sources said that according to the hunting permits issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol, Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz, the names of the Qatari hunters and the areas allocated to them are: Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani has been allocated the hunting areas in three provinces. The areas are Tharparkar district, including Mithi and Nagarparkar minus the protected area in Sindh; Mashkhel tehsil in Balochistan, and Jhang and Layyah districts in Punjab.

A former deputy prime minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa al Thani, who is also a brother of the father of the emir of Qatar, has been allocated district Loralai (less Duki area) in Balochistan.

Sheikh Jasim bin Hamad al Thani, who is a son of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani (father of the emir), has been given Musakhel and Drug tehsils in Musakhel district and Sani Shoran tehsil in Kachhi district in Balochistan.

A royal family member, Sheikh Fasil bin Nasser bin Hamad al Thani, has been allotted Diplo tehsil in Tharparkar district in Sindh and Qila Saifullah district, including Kakar Khurassan and Qamar Din Karez, in Balochistan. Another member of the royal family, Sheikh Khalid bin Thani al Thani, has been given Dadu city in Sindh to hunt the protected bird.

A ruling family member, Sheikh Fahad bin Abdul Rehman bin Hamad al Thani, has been allocated Mirpurkhas district in Sindh. Sheikh Mohammad bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Thani has been given Barkhan district in Balochistan.

Sheikh Thani bin Abdul Aziz Al-Thani has been allotted Surab tehsil in Kalat district of Balochistan. Sheikh Fasil bin Qasim bin Faisal bin Thani al Thani has been given Dera Bugti district in Balochistan. Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Thani al Thani has been given Kech/Turbat district in Balochistan.

The sources said that earlier when the ruling Tehreek-i-Insaf Pakistan party was in the opposition, it used to criticise the federal government over this issue and at that time did not allow houbara hunting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it was in the provincial government.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2019

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