KARACHI: The federal government has issued a special permit to Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, to “export” 150 falcons of rare species from Pakistan to the UAE, sources told Dawn on Monday.
According to the sources, the permission was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and delivered to the UAE’s embassy in the federal capital.
The rare species — peregrine and Saker — are used by Arab hunters to trap houbara bustards. As hunters need to replace aging falcons with younger ones, the demand for these birds almost always remains stable.
Rare species are used to hunt houbara bustards
Falcons are protected under international nature conservation treaties — including the Switzerland-based Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) — and their trans-boundary travel is restricted. Pakistan is a signatory to the treaty.
Trapping and trade in falcons are banned under the wildlife protection laws of the country. There are no formal shops and markets anywhere for lawful sale and purchase of falcons.
The sources said that in the face of a ban on trapping and trade of falcons legally, a “falcon exporter” has to purchase illegally trapped falcons from illegal wildlife traders.
The federal government and the “exporter” will be guilty of patronising this illegal wildlife trafficking.
Besides violating various local wildlife protection laws as well as international nature conservation treaties, the government is putting at risk the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status given to it by the European Union (EU), the sources explained. The status facilitates the easy access of Pakistani exports to the highly lucrative market of the European Union.
A country having the GSP Plus status has to observe international nature conservation treaties and if it violates these agreements, the EU has the powers to strip the state concerned off its GSP Plus status. This would restrict easy access of Pakistani exports to EU markets, badly affecting foreign exchange earnings of a foreign currency-starved country.
The permit issued in favour of the UAE vice president on Sept 15 this year reads: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan presents its compliments to the Embassy of UAE in Islamabad and with reference to its … regarding export of falcons has the honour to inform that the esteemed embassy may export one hundred and fifty (150) falcons from Pakistan to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) for personal use of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, vice president of UAE and ruler of Dubai, from Karachi/Bahawalpur/Rahim Yar Khan/Islamabad/Quetta.
“In this regard, the concerned authorities have been requested to accord facilitation for the export of one hundred and fifty (150) falcons from Pakistan to UAE.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the esteemed mission of the assurances of its highest consideration.”
The permit was issued under the signature of the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2020