A Balochistan native has filed a constitutional petition against Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs for granting 29 permits for hunting of Houbara bustards to members of Arab royal families in southwestern Balochistan province.
For many decades now, sex-crazed wealthy princes of Gulf sheikhdoms come to Balochistan in winters to hunt for Houbara bustards as the meat of the bird is considered to be an aphrodisiac
The petitioner Obaidullah Baloch, son of Khan Mohammed, and resident of Prom town in the date-growing Panjgur district, said the Pakistan ministry of foreign affairs “has no concern with the lands situated in the province” and has without legal authority allocated certain areas of the province for hunting of Houbara bustards for the year 2014-2015.
He said earlier a similar petition was filed in 2010 against the grant of hunting permits to Arab royal families and the ministry of foreign affairs had assured the Balochistan high court that such violations will not be repeated in the future “but surprisingly the respondents again issued permits to the same persons, hence this petition.”
Mr Baloch’s petition said the issuance of the permit to the Arab hunting parties was unwarranted and illegal and the Pakistan ministry of foreign affairs is “nobody to do the same” as there was no sanction of law available to the ministry to issue such hunting permits.
The petitioner pointed out that the Department of Wildlife in Balochistan does not give hunting permits for Houbara Bustards as the birds are a protected species
The petitioner prayed to the high court to declare the hunting permits issues to the Gulf royal families as illegal.
Every year, thousands of Houbara bustards fly from Central Asia to escape the harsh winter there and to come to the warmer climes to Balochistan; also attracting the Arab royal hunters to the province that has been in the grips of a bloody uprising for freedom from Pakistan for a decade now.
Baloch freedom fighters are opposed to such hunting by Arab princes and have attacked the hunting parties in recent years.
According to news reports, a Saudi prince last year killed more than 2100 Houbara Bustards, according a Balochistan official report.
“The report titled ‘Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard’ prepared by Jaffar Baloch, divisional forest officer of the Balochistan forest and wildlife department, Chagai at Dalbandin, says the prince hunted for 21 days – from Jan 11, 2014 to Jan 31– and hunted 1,977 birds, while other members of his party hunted an additional 123 birds, bringing the total bustard toll to 2,100, sources said,” said a report in Dawn newspaper.
There is also angst in the other Pakistan provinces over the hunting as well.
The Gulf Arabs also use the Houbara bustards for training their falcons. The biological name of the bird is Chlamydotis undulata.