ISLAMABAD: A lawmaker from the opposition party, Shafqat Mehmood, slammed the government for declaring hunting of Houbara Bustard as a pillar of the country's foreign policy.

“This statement about endangered specie is not understandable...We are also in favour of relations with gulf states and Arab countries but this is not a suitable way,” said the PTI lawmaker on a point of order in National Assembly proceeding.

“Are these relations only based on hunting of the Houbara Bustard?” Mehmood asked Advisor to PM for foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz.

He said that there was a need to constitute a solid policy on it.

Responding to the concerns raised by PTI lawmakers, Advisor to PM for foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said this issue is currently in the Supreme Court. “Further discussion on it will be made after the court decision,” he maintained.

The matter of ban on hunting of Houbara bustard was discussed in the National assembly on Wednesday as PML-N member Mian Imtiaz expressed anger over the ban.

He had mentioned that the ban on the Houbara Bustard’s hunt has affected the region’s development and employment of local population. "If the complete elimination of the ban is not possible then hunting should be allowed on a limited scale," he added.

Talking to The Nation, PTI lawmaker Shafqat Mehmood said there are many more ways of extending goodwill gestures to other countries. “Terming hunting of Houbara Bustard as a pillar foreign policy is very strange...It is an endangered specie. What will happen if this specie becomes extinct?” he said.

Mehmood said that economic relations, strategic relations and people to people contact could be pillars of foreign policy, “A bird cannot be a pillar of foreign policy,” he added.

The Supreme Court has also recently turned down federation’s request to grant interim relief for issuance of licences for hunting of protected bird, the Houbara Bustard.

The court on August 19, 2015 had struck down the notification issued by the Foreign Office for issuance of licences for the hunting or poaching of the Houbara Bustard.

The court had also declared the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance ultra vires. It said neither the federation nor a province can grant a licence/permit to hunt the protected birds.

The federal as well as Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab governments have filed review petitions against the apex court judgment, which are being heard by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.