Conflict of interest | Pakistan Today

Conflict of interest

And a happy surprise

The peculiar relationship that many Pakistani politicians have developed with the Gulf Sheikhs is affecting the country in ways that are not always welcome. Some of these politicians are personally obliged to the rulers as they or their scions have set up business concerns in the Gulf. Others have built residences in the Gulf states, where they come to hibernate when under clouds in Pakistan. As these politicians come to power, they go out of their way to oblige the Sheikhs in return for favours received. Sometime they concede to demands even if these violate Pakistani laws or go against the country’s interests.

Houbara bustard hunting is popular among the Arab royals. The birds are listed as “vulnerable” and declining in numbers by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” of threatened species. Hunting houbara bustards is banned in Pakistan. Several princes are, however, issued special hunting permit every year. The permits, which are person specific and are not to be used by anyone else, allow the holders to hunt up to 100 birds in 10 days in the area allocated, excluding reserved and protected areas. The royals often violate the undertakings. In April last year a prince poached over 2,100 houbara bustards in 21-day hunting safari in Chagai, Balochistan, during which he also indulged in illegal hunting in protected areas, according to a report prepared by a Balochistan government department. This led Balochistan High Court (BHC) issue orders for cancellation of areas allotted to foreigners hunting for the rare birds. Violating the orders a royal again came hunting the birds last month and was received by a federal minister. As he proceeded to the area in the wilderness allotted to him for hunting the government maintained that the ‘foreign delegation’ was only on a diplomatic mission.

The news that KP government has fined a Qatari prince and confiscated two of his falcon comes as a happy surprise. There is a need on the part of the other three provinces to follow the precedent. But will they?