Money Talks

Feeling disgusted.

Houbara bustard

The Supreme Court, after several weeks of deliberations, lifted the ban on the hunting of the winter migratory bird, the Houbara bustard by Arab royalty, succumbing to Foreign Ministry plea that allowing Houbara hunting is a ‘pillar’ of our foreign policy and vital for maintaining cordial relations with the Arabs. The petitioners for the removal of the ban also included the provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh and Balochsitan.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, a person I greatly admire for his consistent uprightness, was the only dissenting Justice on the 4 member Bench. And according to a news report in Express Tribune, the 16 page judgment did not include the text of Justice Isa’s dissenting note.

Then channel surfacing last night, I heard Kamran Khan gloating about what a great ruling it was by the Supreme Court and how it will ‘restore’ our goodwill the Arabs, shaken earlier by our principled stance of not sending our soldiers to fight their war in Yemen. The poor migratory Houbara has thus become the fall guy (or bird) to try and rescue our otherwise pathetic foreign policy.

But then we as a nation have never had any love for nature and wild animals. In many rural areas bear-baiting (tying a bear with a long rope to a stake in the ground and setting specially trained fighter dogs on it) is a popular spectator sport. Slaughter of wild black bear mothers to steal the cubs, to be then trained to perform as dancing bears in our streets is still common. An incredible number of wildlife species are illegally caught throughout the country to be sold, dead or alive, to the international illegal trade in wildlife, or even nationally to an ever growing number of resident foreigners of a particular nationality who will eat anything. Species so poached include freshwater turtles, land tortoises, pangolins, hares, snakes, some species of frogs, porcupines, and several species of wild birds.

Turn to our zoos and these are veritable Guantanamos for the unfortunate animals kept in them. Totally stressed, poorly fed and with scant veterinary care, seeing the poor animals would drive anyone to tears, but not so the authorities who operate these animal prisons.

Ironically, news from across the border in India a couple of days ago, was that the Indian government has banned dolphin shows throughout the country as this is demeaning and highly stressful for the highly intelligent and sensitive dolphins.

BTW, Houbara bustard hunting by Arab ‘dignitaries’ was banned in India decades ago and this did not have any negative impact on their relations with the Arabs. One proof point: millions more Indians employed in Gulf Arab countries than Pakistanis.

The Foreign Office and Kamran Khan in his show today, kept pointing out how the Arabs privilege to slaughter the Houbara over the past several years has paid back in terms of the Arabs developing roads, hospitals, schools and madrassahs (yes, madrassahs! And perhaps few will still doubt today what these Arab funded madrassahs have produced), etc, etc. Not to mention that all this Houbara hunting has also ingrained corruption, avarice, subservience and shamelessness in the people who ‘facilitate’ the foreign hunters in every which way possible. I don’t have to tell you what other pleasures are readily catered.

Shameless people. Did it ever occur to them that it is the prime responsibility of our successive governments to build this essential infrastructure with the taxes we pay, instead of squandering our own resources on grandiose photo-op projects and unlimited administrative expenses of the PM House, the President House, the good-for-nothing Parliamentarians and foreign junkets? Do we have to prostitute ourselves to develop?

Reminds me of what US Attorney Robert F Horan who prosecuted Aimal Kansi wanted in the USA for killing two CIA officials, once said: “Pakistanis will sell their mothers for a dollar”. That had hit our pride hard and everyone and his uncle had vociferously protested. But let us accept the reality. By happily accepting a slave role to Middle Eastern money, demeaning ourselves without a shadow of remorse or guilt or shame or national pride, we have brought upon ourselves the situation we are in.

Pakistan it seems is ever at the crossroads. Given everything any country can only dream of in terms of natural resources, we still continue to slide deeper into the pits. Because we have always had resources, but we have never had true visionary, selfless, honest and strong leadership. Every ‘leader’ we have had has chosen only one path – present day self-aggrandizement. Absolutely no interest in going down in history as a true reformer or developer of the ilk of Mahathir or Mandela or Lee Kuan Yew.

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