LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday expressed dismay over the failure of federal government for not filing reply in Houbara Bustard case.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took up petitions challenging permits issued to Qatari Royal family and others for hunting Houbara Bustard and other birds.

The CJ asked the government to explain that how the foreign dignitaries were permitted to do hunting of internationally protected Houbara Bustard.

During the proceedings, World Wild Life Federation told the court that the population of Houbara Busard was decreasing for last twenty years. It stated the hunting of the bird was continued which had indulged in danger. The federation pleaded the court to ban the permits. 

Brig (r) Mukhtar, who is president of Houbara Bustard, also appeared in the court who expressed his concerns saying that the permits were issued for the areas which were lacking economic development and had many other issues.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, the petitioner’s counsel, argued that an assurance was given to the government of development countries that economic development would take place in those areas where exploration of resources and licencing permits of hunting were issued.

The assurance was given in exchange, the counsel said.

He stated that Jhang and Bhakkar were lacking economic development despite that the Supreme Court had directed the authorities concerned for economic development in those areas where hunting permits were given.

Another petitioner told the court that Sardar Kaleem Ilyas alleged that hunting permits were issued without prior approval of the cabinet while its decision could not be implemented retrospectively.

He stated that granting permission for hunting Houbara Bustard was like to end their population and alleged that the government violated several international laws by awarding the hunting permits to Qatari princes.

The petitioner submitted that cabinet’s approval was a mandatory act under the law.

Faryal Ali Gohar, a socialite, and Naeem Sadiq also moved petitions seeking direction for the federal government for the protection of animals and challenging their display during election campaigns.