Arab sheikhs, endangered birds and terror financing

Pakistan’s practice of granting hunting permits to Arab sheikhs ends up putting money in the wrong pockets

Every year, the Pakistani government rolls out the red carpet to its honoured guests — an assortment of emirs and sheikhs who come to hunt the houbara bustard. Hunting this bird is illegal in Pakistan for most parts, unless of course, you are one of the Pakistani government’s honoured guests and contribute to its goal of poverty alleviation and infrastructure development in the underdeveloped hunting regions.

For it was the Foreign Ministry that awarded dozens of special permits to Arab dignitaries to hunt the bird each year, despite the fact that Pakistanis have been prohibited from killing the houbara since 1972. Yet each season, which lasts from November until March, their countryside is carved up, like a giant salami into ever smaller parts. Some sheikhs — among them the Saudi Minister of Defense — receive permits that cover thousands of square miles. No other hunters may cross the invisible line that separates Prince Sultan’s personal hunting grounds from those of, for example, Sheikh Zayed al-Nahayan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, or the Dubai leader, Sheikh Maktoum. At least, in principle, that is the rule.

Many Pakistanis are puzzled by the royal hunts, and can’t really explain why, with the arrival of the houbara, scores of Middle Eastern potentates — Presidents, ambassadors, ministers, generals, governors — descend upon their country in fleets of private plans. They come armed with computers and radar, hundreds of servants and other staff, customized weapons, and priceless falcons, which are used to hunt the bird. But then the houbara bustard has been a fascination to the great sheikhs of the desert for hundreds of years.[Mary Ann Weaver/New Yorker]

So is the houbara bustard really being sacrificed on the altar of economic development?

According to unofficial estimates, Arab sheikhs spend about ten to twenty million dollars per hunt on houbara bustards. One of the excuses Pakistani government uses is that sheikhs contribute to the local infrastructure development, which could be contradicted by the private airports that are useless for the local population and beneficial for sheikhs themselves, not to mention mosques that no one uses anyway[TED]

Besides, some of those petrodollars ultimately end up in the pockets of terrorists.

The rise of Sipah-e-Sahaba was owed to the money that seeped into its seminaries in South Punjab from the Arab guests. Once the money appeared, the seminaries opened like mushrooms.
[Khaled Ahmed/DT]

Related Link: Hunting with the Sheikhs (pdf), an article by Mary Ann Weaver, in the New Yorker magazine

9 thoughts on “Arab sheikhs, endangered birds and terror financing”

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  2. The reason Arabs hunt the houbara more for sport. Actually, the houbara meat is said to contain an aphrodisiac that increases sexual impotency.

  3. REminds you of the colonial et, eh? Sahibs coming down for safari season… local serfs ready to pander and serve every whim…whooo…Whoever said the raj was over?

  4. Surplus wealth,surplus time….what to do????wipe the poor and Houbra and the Saker off the face of Earth.

  5. The link between the Arab Royal hunters and Al-Qaeda and other terrorists is very much fact. The Pakistan government knows it and the Arab governments know it, but they choose to turn a blind eye to it. The media unfortunately has no idea of the depth and breadth of this relationship, otherwise the number of people vacationing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would be much higher.

  6. I believe a very good work is being done here by putting all this information here. The article shows the concern that how this organization is concerned about the killing of birds,really brave and good work,innocent killing of birds has really hurt them.I would like to ask one question?
    1)Why do u people poke your nose into the internal matters of a country,what ever we do with our guests,who are u speak ,we have great respect ,honour and show hospitality for our dear Muslim Brothers,if they want to come and hunt so what.
    2)I think a human life is more important than the killing of a bird.Is it or is it not?or killing human beings,rapping women,and above all killing innocent children is of no concern to the world.
    3)India and Israel(Jews) are doing all these attrocities in the territories being held by the force of weapon in Kashmir and Palestine,why don’t you raise the issue over there,their United States grants Billion of Dollars of grant to the Israeli State to develop its weapons of mass destruction and to kill unarmed people and Israel helping India to upgrade its Fighter jets,Tanks,Ships for what,getting AWACS(VERY CHEAP RADARS-JUST FOR A PENNY),this is nothing,because they are muslims,and killing innocent human beings if they are muslims is legal,respectable and of no concern ,and their lives are of no important that these birds???
    Really astonishing,remarkable,great,it shows the unbiasness and the double facedness of the people.
    Why don’t u speak and raise this issue,and take steps to stop these states from doing terrorism.

  7. In this context i appreciates imran’s aggresive comments but see here the main issue is the killing of an innocent creature not a human being.what do u think that our Govt.s are unaware of these matters?The referances you have given are well worth but tell me one there anyone who can take action on that stuff???????
    anyhow, as the arabs have too much money so they have chosen unique ways to spend their money,just for the sake of enjoyment.what should our Govt.can do?being a thirld world and poorest country how can they stop them to do so….

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