ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Friday overturned its decision to ban the hunting of the houbara bustard, a rare desert bird whose meat is luxury among Arab sheikhs as an aphrodisiac.
Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday requested the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government not to lift the ban on the hunting of rare bird.
“Never thought I would see the day when hunting of the endangered Houbara Bustard would become a pillar of our foreign policy”, Khan said on Twitter.
The issue has also cast a spotlight on traditionally close ties between Pakistan and its allies in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Last year, a three-member bench the Supreme Court banned hunting of the bird entirely, in a decision welcomed by wildlife campaigners. The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the bird on its “red list” of threatened species, estimating there are fewer than 97,000 left globally.
But the federal and provincial governments asked the five-member larger bench of the court to review the decision, claiming that controlled hunting was a tool for preservation and should be allowed. In a judgment issued Friday, the court said it had set aside its original decision to ban hunting of the bird and that petitions on the issue would be listed for fresh hearings.
Nawaz Sharif, along with powerful Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, visited Riyadh earlier this week in what his office said was an effort to ease tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pakistan has deep military connections with Saudi Arabia and it has long benefited from the oil-rich kingdom‘s.