ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday banned the hunting of migratory bird houbara bustard in Pakistan after canceling licenses/permits issued to foreign dignitaries by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The court observed that foreign dignitaries were also required to abide by the laws in Pakistan terming the hunting of houbara bustard by the foreign dignitaries illegal.A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, allowed the constitutional petition, filed by Aamir Zahoor-ul-Haq praying for the cancellation of licenses/permits for the hunting of houbara bustard, issued to both foreign dignitaries and locals.
The court dismissed other petitions filed by the federal and Balochistan governments and others against the judgment of Balochistan High Court on the said matter.Addressing a law officer, the chief justice asked: “What’s the meaning of dignitaries? Does it mean that dignitaries are above the law?” He said foreign dignitaries were required to respect and abide by the laws of Pakistan.
Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman while justifying the grant of permits to foreign dignitaries submitted that licenses were issued by the federal government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs keeping in view the diplomatic relations.
At this, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa observed that if someone comes to Pakistan from abroad would the government also allow him to kill someone.“Foreign guests will have to respect and abide by the laws of Pakistan”, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa remarked adding that how foreign dignitaries could be allowed to violate the Pakistani law.
Justice Dost Muhammad Khan observed that the Ministry of Wildlife had been devolved to the provinces after the 18th Amendment then under what authority the Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted licenses.
He asked Qazi Sheheryar, Additional Advocate General Sindh, if he had got any permission or chit from the secretary to prime minister for granting license/permits to the foreign dignitaries.
In his petition, Aamir Zahoor-ul-Haq submitted that despite a ban in Pakistan on the hunting of Houbara Bustard and also a very strong reaction from the civil society, licenses/permits had been issued to the dignitaries of the Middle Eastern countries to hunt globally protected Houbara Bustard.
Last month, the petitioner had provided the apex court with some additional documents pertaining to the details of allocation of areas by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to foreign dignitaries for hunting Houbara Bustard in four provinces of Pakistan.