Cancel the licences: ‘We value birds over billionaires!’
KARACHI: Houbaras are welcome but sheikhs are not, warned civil society members at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday. Concerned citizens had gathered to protest the hunting of the endangered houbara bustards.
Adults were joined by young children holding placards, all of them chanting slogans against the federal government for issuing licences to foreigners to hunt as many houbara bustards as they want.
The population of houbara birds is decreasing rapidly, said social activist Naeem Sadiq. He added that the world should blame Pakistan for this, as ours is the only country that allows the hunting of these birds. Every year 4,000 to 6,000 houbara bustards are hunted in Pakistan, said Sadiq.
He also said that the foreign ministry should cancel all licences allowing illegal hunting of the bird. The activist added that it is not only an animal rights violation but also a human rights violation, as it harms our environment.
Interestingly, one of the placards had an Arabic slogan on it, which was a message to hunters from Gulf states to stop hunting the endangered species. The protest was indicative of young children being empathetic enough to feel the pain of innocent animals.
A young girl, Imana Tariq, believed that the hunting of the houbara bustard is a barbaric act and these innocent birds are our guests but the treatment they receive is cruel. “Ever since our childhood we have learned to protect the environment but our elders are not following what they have been taught at school,” she lamented. Another youngster, Muneeb Iqbal, questioned what sort of enjoyment the hunters feel after killing innocent birds.
Some notable personalities that attended the protest included author Rumana Husain, classical dancer Sheema Kermani and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research’s executive director Karamat Ali.
Ali criticised the government and said that it will never cancel the hunting licences, as these hunters fills their [government officials’] pockets with large sums of money and gifts such expensive cars.
Ali pointed out that while these hunters enjoy air-conditioned tents and delicious food during their stay, alongside their temporary residences are settlements of poor peasants who observe the luxuries of these hunters with hopeless eyes. He added that these wealthy people should think about investing in the future of innocent human beings instead of spending billions on luxuries.