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Pak asks SC to overturn ban on hunting Houbara Bustards birds

Karachi: Pakistan today moved a petition in the Supreme Court asking for a review of the ban imposed on hunting of the rare Houbara Bustard birds by oil-rich Arab Sheikhs and foreign dignataries in the country.

The Supreme Court had on August 19 imposed a ban on the issuance of permits and licenses for the hunting of endangered birds and also ordered the cancellation of all existing permits.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Qazi Faez Isa heard the review petitions moved separately by the federal and provincial governments and adjourned the hearing for three weeks.

In October, the federal government has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the ban on hunting vulnerable migratory birds by foreign dignitaries, saying the restriction was adversely affecting the country’s relations with the Gulf states.

The petition involved a question of fundamental importance having direct bearing upon foreign relations of the federation with the Gulf states, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pleaded in a petition seeking a review of the August 19 verdict.

It noted in the petition that falconry is a significant feature of Pakistan’s relations with Middle Eastern countries.

Falconry is not merely a sport for Arabs, but also one of their most cherished customs and recognised as a cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Mostly wealthy arab sheikhs from the middle eastern countries come to the Baluchistan province in winter to hunt the vulnerable migratory bird houbara bustard whose meat is prized as an aphrodisiac.

They hunt the Houbara Bustard by using hunting falcons a practice wildlife conservationists say is reducing the number of the endangered birds.

Deputy attorney general Amir Rehman argued on Thursday that controlled hunting is a tool for preservation so it should be allowed.

The court while adjourning the hearing asked the government to provide evidence and date of the efforts it was making for preserving rare birds.

According to the the International Union for Conservation of Nature there are around 97,000 of the rare bird left globally.