KARACHI, Oct 26: The federal government has issued at least 30 special permits to royal family members and government officials of Arab states to hunt the highly rare and internationally protected bird species houbara bustard, it emerged on Friday.
Hunting of the internationally protected migratory bird is banned under various local and international conservation laws and Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt the precious bird, sources said.
During the hunting season 2012-13, the sources said, the favour had been extended to the royal families of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, State of Qatar and Kingdom of Bahrain, including three rulers (kings), four crown prices, an uncle of a ruler, brothers and other close family members of the rulers.
The sources said that the maximum number of districts/ areas, 14 to be exact, had been allocated to UAE ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. They added that he was also the single hunter who had been allocated areas in the three provinces — Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan — where the houbara bustard stays after flying from the much colder central Asian habitat to spend its winters.
While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest and wealthiest country in the Arabian peninsula, it has been allocated just two hunting permits unlike the UAE that has been given 12 permits, Qatar 11 permits and Bahrain five permits, according to the sources.
Almost the entire arid region, which provided temporary abode to the migratory birds and spread in all the four provinces of Pakistan, had been allocated to these 30 foreign hunters, the sources said.
The names of the hunters and areas allocated to them, according to the list prepared by the foreign ministry are:
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the first deputy prime minister and defence minister, has been given a permit for hunting in districts of Dera Bugti, Dera Murad Jamali, Nasirabad and Jaffarbad and Duki in Loralai district in Balochistan and Vehari, Multan (Tehsil Shujabad), Mianwali and Sargodha in Punjab.
Tabuk Governor Prince Fahd bin Abdul Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been allocated districts of Chagai, Awaran and Noshki (excluding the Noshki city) in Balochistan.
Kingdom of Bahrain
An uncle of the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Ebrahim bin Hamad bin Abdullah al Khalifa, has been issued a permit for hunting in Mastung district of Balochistan.
A member of the ruling family, Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali Al Khalifa, has been allowed hunting in Malir district (excluding the Malir cantonment and Dhabeji areas) in Sindh.
Another member of the ruling family, Sheikh Mohammad bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has been allotted the Malir district (excluding Malir Cantonment and Dhabeji areas).
Defence affairs adviser to the king Sheikh Abdullah bin Salman Al Khalifa has been allowed hunting in Jati tehsil of Thatta district, Sindh.
Bahrain defence forces commander in chief Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has been given permit for hunting in Toisar tehsil of Musakhel district in Balochistan.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has been allowed to hunt in districts of Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab, and Sukkur, Ghotki, Nawabshah and Sanghar in Sindh and Zhob, Ormara, Gwadar, Pasni, Kharan, excluding Naag Dara (Naag valley is a breeding area), Panjgur and Washuk in Balochistan.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE armed forces Lieutenant General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has been allowed to hunt in Lehri tehsil of Sibi district (Domki area only).
UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has been allowed to hunt in Khairpur district, including Kot Diji (not across Nara Canal) in Sindh.
UAE Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is ruler’s representative in the western region, has been allotted Lehri tehsil of Sibi district (excluding Domki), old Kutchi and Sani Shoran of Bolan district in Balochistan and Khairpur Nathan Shah, Ghaibi Dero, Shahdadkot, Khairpur (area across Nara canal), Tehsil Johi and Fareedabad union council in Dadu district of Sindh.
Another member of the royal family, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has been given Qila Saifullah district, including Kar Khurassan (less subdivision Muslim Bagh) in Balochistan.
Ruler of Dubai and vice president of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been allowed to hunt in Khuzdar and Lasbela districts of Balochistan and in Muzaffargarh district of Punjab.
Crown prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been allotted Bhakkar and Khushab districts of Punjab and Jamshoro district of Sindh.
Deputy ruler of Dubai and Finance Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been given Bahawalpur district and Fort Abbas tehsil of Bahawalnagar district.