It would be unsurprising if the houbara bustard was found to have its own quarters somewhere in the Foreign Office
It would be unsurprising if the houbara bustard was found to have its own quarters somewhere in the Foreign Office, perhaps even sending accredited emissaries to countries of the Gulf states to better facilitate its own demise. The birds would be invited to make an input to weighty foreign policy decisions, perhaps submitting position papers and predictive analyses before the meetings took place. None of this is true — we hope — but the houbara bustard has unwittingly found itself elevated to the ranks of an important element of Pakistan foreign policy, at least if we are to believe a submission made by the government attempting to overturn a ruling that barred the provincial and federal governments from issuing permits to hunt this unfortunate creature.
It is the governmental view that the apex Court had not properly considered the effect of the ban on our diplomatic ties with assorted Middle Eastern and Gulf countries. Those ties have apparently been weakened of late for reasons unconnected with houbara bustards, and stand to weaken further if royalty from Gulf states are not allowed to indulge themselves at the expense of a vulnerable migratory bird. This is preposterous nonsense with a heavy sauce of grovelling sycophancy. If our relations with these states are so precarious and fragile that their fate rests on the provision of hunting permits, then those relations have all the utility of a chocolate bicycle. In a heatwave.
The government’s claim that the hunters bring jobs and money to the areas where they go about their business is shaky at best, and whatever infrastructure may derive from the hunters’ money is strictly limited to enhancing their own ability to kill birds — and not only the falcons that are the supposed “cultural heritage” peg that the petition has been hung on. One does not need to be a crack shot to bring down large, slow-flying and ungainly birds like the houbara bustard, and they fall to the guns in droves. The apex Court must uphold its decision, and nebulous ‘foreign policy’ considerations be damned.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.
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