According to historical accounts, Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister of India Rajeev Gandhi, once stated about Pakistan, that by bombarding and infecting it with Indian culture, we have definitely won a war which could not have been possibly won with weapons, with the result we have weakened the very foundation of Pakistan.

If we analyse our internal situation, Indian culture has seeped into ours and has inadvertently affected our nation’s daily life and has turned our people into die-hard buffs of Indian media and their movie industry. Unfortunately, we are in denial about the fact that our next door neighbour has caused us great harm, be it rising terrorism and unrest in Karachi, Balochistan and Waziristan or the bloodshed in Kashmir.

It does not end here but this sinister enemy has tried its level best to detract our closest Arab friends to divert their Falconry interest from Pakistan to their own country, but to their utter disappointment our highest citadel of legal faith, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave an epic decision on uplifting the ban on houbara hunting and dispirited our neighbour’s evil plans.

It’s important to mention here that the media also played its great role related to the houbara issue and created relevant awareness about the fact that houbara is being falsely propagated as critically endangered.

Why is it that India is raising the houbara controversy now and that too during Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister, who has always been against Muslims?

People have very little knowledge about the houbara bustard, which migrates from Central Asian countries during winters into Afghanistan, Iran, Balochistan, Sindh and South Punjab and brings glad-tidings for our land with it. There are millions of people residing in the habitat areas of the houbara who are benefiting from its arrival as it provides livelihood to these people

Falconry (hunting houbara with falcons) is one of the Arab culture’s most honoured traditions. People have false ideas that the Arabs through falconry, butcher the houbara which is absolutely false, they have no idea that these Arabs follow a strict code of conduct during falconry of houbara.

In Pakistan, houbara hunting season starts from November till January for which the visiting Arabs are allotted hunting areas. Arab dignitaries are asked to camp for only 10 days and the houbara is allowed to be hunted with the aid of falcons while hunting with firearms is strictly forbidden. The Arab hunters are not allowed to take houbara chicks or eggs to their respective countries.

On a daily basis, the wildlife team patrol the hunting areas and keep track of the number of birds hunted. All relevant Law enforcement and Government agencies keep a close liaison with dignitaries for their protection and ensure that the cultivated land falling in their hunting areas are not destroyed and that the inhabitants living in the hunting area are not disturbed by them and they are duly compensated for any damage done to their crops.

As a writer, I fail to understand as to how the Arabs are committed to destroy houbaras, if they are employing all their resources to save this bird. People think that the Arabs are responsible in the rampant destruction of this bird, little do they know that Abu Dhabi has established a state of the art facility for houbara breeding and research in Abu Dhabi. This facility, since 1996 till 2014, has bred 2,062,238 houbaras and have released 104,188 houbaras back to the wild.

The matter does not end here, the Arab brethren have in addition to houbara conservation have worked for the protection of habitat area and have also donated generously for the uplift of our habitat communities. The Arabs have established 30 hospitals, 18 roads and bridges, 6 airports of international standards, 27 housing schemes, 23 schools/colleges, 33 water filtration plants, windmills, canals and water reservoirs. In addition to 38 conservation related projects, 4 Islamic Centres, 5 Power Generation projects have been built, and free medical, eye and veterinary camps in the remote areas of the houbara habitat have been established.

The irony is that pro-Indian lobbies are creating hurdles in our relationship with Arab brothers. They are the same Mir Jaffars who are against the construction of Kalabagh dam. The propaganda has been so successful that it can be observed that during the visit of Modi’s visit to UAE, immediately after the initial ban on hunting of houbaras in Pakistan imposed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, he successfully conveyed the impression on the UAE government that India is the only friendly country in the region, and has been successful in getting the UAE government to allow Hindus to construct a temple in UAE, the first ever.

We must realise that by creating rift between Pakistan and the Arabs, it would not only cause havoc to 350,000 Pakistanis who would lose their livelihood in Arab countries but will also affect hundreds of families/communities whose livelihoods are somehow or the other related to migration of houbara in these areas of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. The Arabs have generously donated 250 public welfare projects and worked for the conservation of the Houbara Bustard in Pakistan.

It’s therefore about time that we differentiate between our friends and foes for the future prosperity of the people/communities living in the least developed areas where they are deprived of basic facilities. We should understand that Arabs are our brethren, who in one way or the other, want prosperity for our people.

The writer is a freelance contributor.

mjm909@yahoo.com