Islamabad, December 4: Pakistan has issued special permits to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and two other members of the royal family to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustards during the hunting season 2020-21, according to a media report on Friday.
Sources said the two other hunters are governors and one of them is a defaulter as he has not paid the hunting fees for last year.
The hunters had been allocated certain hunting areas in two provinces — Balochistan and Punjab, the Dawn newspaper reported.
They said that though the foreign ministry was expected to maintain the protocol and official hierarchy, the name of the most powerful person and “real” ruler of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman has been mentioned at the bottom of the list of hunters sent to the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad.
The houbara bustard is a resident of the colder Central Asian region. It migrates southwards every year to spend its winters in a relatively warmer environment in Pakistan.
Arab hunters are specially invited by the Pakistan government to hunt them.
Owing to its dwindling population, the houbara is not only protected under various international nature conservation treaties but is also protected under local wildlife protection laws. Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt it.
The sources told the newspaper that earlier Prime Minister Imran Khan, when he was in the Opposition, used to criticise the then federal government for issuing houbara hunting permits and had not allowed houbara hunting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ruled, but now has issued the permits to hunters from Saudi Arabia.
The sources said that the hunting permits issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol (P&I) on October 16 were delivered to the Saudi Embassy to be sent to the hunters. (PTI)