LAHORE –  The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday granted permission to hunt Houbara bustard, a rare species of bird, for this year.

The high court announced the decision on an application filed against the hunting of the endangered bird, and has ordered the relevant authorities to complete a survey regarding the breeding of the bird by December 18.

The court said that permission for next year will be granted after reviewing the survey report.

The Internationally migrated Houbara bustards migrate in 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 affluent sheikhs to hunt the bird. This is in spite of the fact that Houbara bustard hunting is officially banned in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Muslim league Nawaz-led federal government had also released Rs. 250 million for a ‘Houbara Bustard and Migratory Birds Endowment Fund’ upon the directions of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2016.