PESHAWAR – 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.

The Chief Minister emphasized that no one would be allowed to hunt Houbara bustard in the province.

A notification was issued to this effect by the adviser to the Chief Minister on Environment and Forests, Ishtiaq Urmar, on Sunday. “No one, local or foreigner, will be allowed to violate the law, as hunting of the internationally-protected bird is not allowed under the law in the province,” the notification stated. It further points out that, after the 18th amendment, every province has the right to protect its wildlife. It goes on to state that the Houbara bustard had been declared a protected bird internationally and, therefore, no one could be allowed to hunt them in the province, regardless of their nationality. The notification further adds that violators will be dealt with strictly in accordance with all applicable laws.

Houbara bustarsds migrate in the thousands from Central Asia to Pakistan every winter, giving the Pakistani elite a chance to engage in “soft diplomacy”, as special permits are issued every year in order to allow wealthy sheikhs to hunt the bird. This is in spite of the fact that houbara bustard hunting is officially banned in Pakistan.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ban will be a source of embarrassment to the PML-N government which has reportedly also issued a special permit to at least one royal, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, to hunt Houbara bustard in Dera Ismail Khan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.