It would be ingenuous to take the repeating political and economic crises the current government lands itself in and conclude that it is unable to learn from past mistakes. Indeed, where it intends to learn, it learns very well. It appears to be only a matter of priorities.

The federal government was in hot water early last year, around April, when news broke of Saudi Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud having hunted 2,100 Houbara bustards within a 21 day period in Dalbandin in Balochistan during the hunting season. The bird is considered an endangered species and is protected internationally and hunting it in Pakistan was also banned. But the federal government had issued ‘special permits’ to several members of the Gulf States’ royal families. The scale of the infraction by Fahd was jaw dropping. Each non-transferrable license issued by the government, to named individuals, granted a 10 day hunting allowance, with a maximum of 100 birds sanctioned to be killed per license. The prince had not only doubled his hunting days, but killed over twenty times more birds in flagrant disregard of the laws, rules, and hospitality of his host country. Indeed, he had even poached birds in off limits, unlicensed areas.

Jafar Baloch, an official of the Balochistan wildlife department wrote a detailed report on the prince’s movements, exact numbers of birds killed on specific dates in specific locations over the 21 days of January 2014. For the stellar job he did, the gentleman was, of course transferred elsewhere.

Furor in the media had eventually led to the Baluchistan High Court ordering cancellation of all such licenses to the Middle Eastern royalty in Baluchistan. Yet, I learnt late last month from sources that the royal parties were back in the hunting grounds of Pakistan.

However, the key issue is that having learnt from last year, the federal government is reported to have issued a number of open-ended licenses to these royals, such that they might plunder to their desires’ content. These ‘benami’ licenses are not restricted to specific persons, nor limit the number of birds anyone can kill. Furthermore, others like Tahnoon bin Mohamed Alnahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abudhabi’s Executive Council, and his extended hunting party that includes his sons, are being facilitated to hunt this year without a license at all.

Indeed, The Tribune reported only a couple of days ago that “Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz was received by federal and provincial ministers including Ahsan Iqbal” to hunt in the very Dalbandin, Baluchistan where he had massacred 2,100 birds last year and where issuing licenses stands in contravention of court orders. Dawn reported that, “Provincial Minister Mir Mujeebur Rehman Muhammad Hassani, former provincial minister Amanullah Notezai and other high-ups received the Governor of Tabuk(Fahd) and his colleagues at Dalbandin Airport on Wednesday” and that “Frontier Corps, police and Levies personnel escorted the convoy of the prince.”

This is not something new. This phenomenon of hunting endangered species on Pakistani territory has been a long standing practice, that none in the ruling class seems to be interested in acting against, either from the current, previous, federal, provincial, civil or military governments. The case of the Houbara bustard hunting though not an existential crisis, is indicative of the deep rooted sense of privilege amongst the ruling elite to break the law, to consider law as relevant or applicable for the common man only.

But here I wondered, how it felt for the guardians of our sovereignty to not only allow foreigners to break the law but to receive them, honour them and escort them around to break the law with servility. Did they feel like the great ghairat-brigades they make themselves out to be in front of the public? Did they feel like they were getting their country raped?

Buy how they feel all depends on the psyche. If I had national pride, felt myself to be the guardian of any semblance of sovereignty, I would (in the ruling elite’s position) indeed feel humiliated, having to escort and accompany and assist Arab royalty to break the law of my land. But if my psyche were similar to the royalty I were assisting, I would be entirely unperturbed by my actions. The Arab hunters are absolute monarchs – and the law, to the monarch’s mind, does not mean the foundational framework of an egalitarian society – to him, the law is essentially the tool that controls the pesky subjects, the ‘riaya’. It is absolutely not meant to apply to the rulers.

So one wonders where our rulers are in their own minds? Raped? Or unperturbed?

But perhaps I have got it completely wrong. It is not their own posteriors they are offering up to the Sheikhs, but the nation’s. The ruling elite of Pakistan is happy to let the Sheikhs do as they please, whether they ruin the physical environment, poison the ideological compass with their petro-funded madrassahs, or accept Pakistani women and birds as gifts, as long as they help keep this ruling class consolidate its hold over the state and further perpetuate its rentier nature. For decades Pakistani governments have remained happy telling themselves that the people of Baluchistan (and other backward areas) welcome the Sheikhs, who develop the localities with the odd school here or the water facility there; with the notion that they ought to be accommodated for the close to a million strong labour force they absorb from this country. But the hard reality is that this same elite does not develop those lands, nor create job opportunities at home, nor invest in developing the human capital so it is competitive in the world and not given jobs in exchange for illegal hunting of endangered species on its soil (which is an imagined causality at best). It does, however, travel to the Sheikhs’ lands frequently enough and return with bags of mysterious ‘loans’.

Repeatedly raped by whomever it’s rented out to, the Pakistani nation is like a blithering idiot now, on Al-Bakistan number plates.