Pakistani officials and the Arabs have a very healthy working relationship; the officials harvest friendly contacts, enjoy the brush of the royal life and pocket a sizeable amount of cash for their troubles, and in return the Arabs are discreetly allowed to indulge in decadent pleasures to their heart’s desire. The tale of the Saudi prince who shot 2,100 endangered Houbara Bustards in a three week safari has created a few ripples in the media, but the practice of giving Arab royals special privileges and hunting rights is an established tradition; erstwhile, kept under wraps. The fact that foreigners are allowed to do acts which qualify as crimes for the common man is enough to make this a deplorable situation; the fact that this is done at the cost of precious  wildlife and in contravention to countless international conventions, to which Pakistan is signatory, makes it absolutely shameless.

The Balochistan High Court on Friday ordered for the cancelation of permits given to Arabs and other foreigners for hunting the bustard and other birds. Citing the International Wildlife Conservation Convention, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, declared the practice illegal, and also issued notices to Federal Interior Ministry, Chief Secretary of Balochistan, and the Pakistan Wild Life department. This is a welcome judgement, one that needs to be reaffirmed at a federal level and stringently upheld. It seems apparent that while the colonial masters have long left, parts of the country are still shackled in colonial frame of mind; swapping one nationality for another, operating Pakistan as these royals’ personal fiefdom, and us, their loyal servants.

Yet, more than this petty corruption what shocks the mind is the apathy towards wildlife. There is a roaring trade in the smuggling of black spotted turtles, an endangered species, to Chinese and Thai clients who use the animal products in dreamt-up ‘traditional medicines’. The Indus Dolphin, one of the world’s only fresh water dolphins, which is found only in these waters, is on the brink of extinction. Only 1,400 remain in the wild due to fishing nets, destroyed habitats and polluted waters. The examples are countless. This wildlife represents the nation’s heritage, it colours its identity and is a vibrant indicator of its diversity. The senseless, limitless murder of this is akin to destroying national monuments and needs to be prosecuted accordingly. Rare species belong to the world, and we are terrible custodians.