LAHORE- Ostrich, a heavy flightless bird of African origin, was officially declared ‘an animal’ on Wednesday when Punjab Assembly passed a bill overruling the objections raised by the Punjab governor who had refused to sign it, saying, it was a ‘bird’ covered under the definition of exotic species not native to Pakistan. ‘“Animal” means a bull, bullock, buffalo, buffalo-bull, camel, cow, goat, ostrich, sheep or any other animal of any age domesticated in captivity”, says section 2 (a) of Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Bill 2012 passed by the Assembly for the second time, ignoring reservations expressed by the Opposition and the governor. On Wednesday, when the law minister moved the bill for its reconsideration as desired by the Punjab governor, PPP’s Ehsanul Haq Naulatia opposed it on the plea that under section- 14 of the Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1974 only exotic species specified in Second Schedule could be lawfully imported and exported and that too, with an import permit. “As the Ostrich comes under the definition of exotic animal, being wildlife species not native to Pakistan and not included in the Second Schedule, there fore, the same cannot be imported”, the PPP legislator told the House taking clue from the objections raised by the governor who had noted that “Inclusion of Ostrich in the category of permissible animals to be slaughtered under the  proposed amendment shall be anomalous without prior amendment in sections 2(ccc) and 14(1) of the Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1974”.Responding to Naulatia’s objections, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana preferred not to go into the legality of farming and slaughtering of Ostrich in Pakistan. Instead, he confined himself to saying that Punjab government had included Ostrich in the category of animals like goats and sheep to meet the increasing demand for meat in the province. He argued that farming and sale of Ostrich’s meat was in vogue across the world which was also good for human consumption.  Following his brief address to the Assembly, the minister moved that Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Bill. 2012 be passed again as originally passed by the Assembly. The motion was carried with majority vote. It merits mention here that Ostrich is a large, flightless bird that lives in the dry grasslands of Africa. The bird is raised for its feathers and skin in South Africa, Egypt, and California. Largest of all birds, the Ostrich is seven to eight feet (2.1 to 2.4 m) tall, and has a long, thin neck and a small, flat head with large, brown eyes. Meanwhile, the Assembly also adopted six other bills for the second time overruling governor’s objections. The Opposition opposed “The Punjab Curriculum Authority Bill, 2012” taking the plea that revision of curriculum was a federal domain and no province could make any legislation on the subject. The law minister, however, did not agree with the opinion and the bill was passed with majority vote. The Opposition, which had entrusted the responsibility of its defence only to a single legislator- Ehsanul Haq Naulatia-also expressed its reservations over amendments in “The Disposal of Land by Development Authorities Bill, saying that government should not have decreased quota of plots for the destitute from 5 to 3 per cent. The law minister maintained that the same was 20 per cent covering different categories of people. The opposition also objected to amendment in “Punjab Agricultural Universities Bill”. Naulatia said that age of superannuation for Vice-chancellors was being raised from 60 to 65 years to favour only one person. The law minister, on the other hand, refuted the allegation, saying that it was not true. He also overruled the combined objections of the Opposition and the governor to the amendments made in “King Edward Medical University Bill”, the University of Health Sciences Bill and the Parks and Horticulture Authority Bill which were also passed as originally passed by the Assembly.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 19-Jul-2012 here.