ISLAMABAD – After Saudi and Bahraini royal family, seven special permits have been issued to the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid and other members of the family to hunt houbara bustard in Pakistan.

According to a report by Dawn News, the permit holders include Dubai’s deputy ruler, crown prince, deputy chief of police, a high-ranking military official, members of the royal family, government officials and a businessman. Three hunting areas in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab have been allocated to the royal elite.

The permits signed by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol Naeem Iqbal Cheema have been sent to the permit holders through the embassy of their country in Islamabad. Mr Cheema has also sent copies of the permits to the wildlife conservator in the climate change ministry, to be forwarded to officials concerned, including chief secretaries, chiefs of Rangers and Frontier Constabulary etc, in the three provinces to facilitate the hunting.

Mr Cheema’s letter to the Islamabad-based diplomatic mission of the United Arab Emirates says:

‘The government of Pakistan has conveyed its recommendations to the authorities in the provinces concerned for allocation of following areas to the dignitaries of Dubai for hunting of houbara bustard for the season 2016 –17.’

Interestingly, local wildlife protection laws also ban hunting of the houbara bustard and Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt this bird but the government issues special permits to dignitaries from Arabian Gulf states to hunt the houbara bustard.

According to the sources, UAE Vice President and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai have been allocated Muzaffargarh district in Punjab, Khuzdar, Lasbela and Nokundi in Balochistan’s Chagai district.

They have been allowed to hunt 100 houbara bustards within 10 days during the hunting season that started on Nov 1 last year and will culminate on January 31.

It is relevant to mention here that earlier, Saudi princes and Bahraini royal family received special permits by the federal government to hunt Houbara Bustard in Pakistan.

The federal government, a few weeks back also released Rs. 250 million for a ‘Houbara Bustard and Migratory Birds Endowment Fund’ upon the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to to increase the population of migratory birds in the country.

Residents of colder Central Asian regions, houbara bustards migrate every year to spend winters in a relatively warmer environment like Pakistan.

On the other hand, The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has imposed a ban on hunting of houbara bustard in the province.

Following the directives of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak issued directions to Wildlife Department for banning hunting of the precious migratory bird in the province.