On Tuesday, a hunting camp of the Qatari Petroleum Minister was attacked in Balochistan. The Minister, who escaped unharmed, is one of many Arab Sheikhs and dignitaries that come to Pakistan during this time of the year to hunt the rare bird, the Houbara Bustard. Around thirty permits are issued yearly to foreigners from the Middle East, with a hundred to two hundred birds allowed to be killed per permit -- and this is for a bird that is internationally recognized as an endangered species. Most hunters inexplicably believe, with no scientific basis, that the meat, when eaten acts as an aphrodisiac.

While our government is fawningly generous in their hospitality to visiting dignitaries, in this case generosity should have its limits. Allowing three to six thousand specimens of a rare bird to be hunted and killed, for a sackful of petro-dollars is not worth the cost. It is unknown whether the licenses to hunt the rare Houbara are issued at a cost, or gratis; nor is there any certainty that the NCCW or other governmental wildlife bodies have assessed what impact such culls have on the endangered species. For the government to treat living things and the ecosystem with such primitive indifference is criminal. It is unfortunate that many people view environmental studies as a pseudo-science or mere conjecture. Studying the changes in the world environment is based on scientific fact and not the product of an over-active imagination, as some of the more archaic-minded would have one believe.

It is time the government stops pandering to the whims of Arab VIPs and instead shows a bit of backbone and sense about protecting indigenous wildlife. We have but one world, and ensuring that it is not laid waste should be our topmost priority -- not providing a bloody and costly sport for flagging libidos.