Though Saudi Princes have a penchant for being in the news for the wrong reasons, this time however it appears to be the Sindh government at fault. The federal government has issued a special permit to a Saudi prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, to export globally protected and rare falcons in violation of its international commitments and national wildlife protection laws.

While one cannot expect the government to value the life of an animal in Pakistan where the loss of human life is all too common and frequent, issuing the permit promotes illegal wildlife trade, which has the potential to put at risk Pakistan’s access to the highly profitable European Union market under the Generalised System of Preference (GSP-Plus) facility.

The environment ministry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had earlier fined a Qatari prince Rs 80,000 after he was caught with three falcons in Dera Ismail Khan, setting a precedent for the federal government to follow. The Supreme Court has also banned the issuing of houbara bustard hunting permits. Since it is alleged that Prince Fahd used falcons in hunting the rare and internationally protected houbara bustard, the federal government should have thought twice before overstepping its bounds for the sake of staying in the good graces of the Gulf Royals.

The export, trading and trapping of falcons has been banned under the provincial wildlife protection laws. The country has no designated market where the birds can be bought and sold and hence an underground market is thriving, where the price of a falcon ranges between Rs 10 million to Rs 100 million. Not only should the government learn to honor its wildlife protection treaties that it so readily signs at international forums, but also create specific laws to protect wildlife and Pakistan’s other valuable natural resources instead of letting it go to waste at the hands of a few influential rich friends. There are some things that are not up for sale, no matter what the offer.