A royal massacre

Published: April 24, 2014

Saudi prince goes on a hunting spree in Pakistan and kills 2100 houbara bustards. PHOTO: AFP

Saudi prince goes on a hunting spree in Pakistan and kills 2100 houbara bustards. PHOTO: REUTERS Saudi prince goes on a hunting spree in Pakistan and kills 2100 houbara bustards. PHOTO: AFP

It is one thing to be a bystander to animal cruelty but it is an entirely different thing to stormily strike and wound a living creature and then have the nerve to back your sadism with a very exasperating false impression of royalty.

A  Saudi prince comes to our homeland, gets a ‘special permit’ to kill a 100 protected houbara bustards, multiplies 100 by 21 and without any hesitation winds up by killing nearly 2100 birds instead. What’s even more appalling is how easily this royal walks away from this heinous indulgence without being stopped or having to face any repercussion.

Since when does following no rules and limits become a perk of being a member of any royal family?

I understand that this prince may think of himself as too high and mighty to think twice about the life of a bird. He may also choose to back his thinking by the lucid anatomical and mental disparities between him and the bird, but my question is, how did he decide that these variations, between humans and animals, are substantial enough to cause such immense inequalities?

It is worthy also to nail down that men and women too have anatomical and mental disparities since I am yet to find a man capable of giving birth or to come across a woman who is chromosomally same as a man. Yet, we very proudly consider the notion of treating men and women as equals to one another. The same is true when we are fighting for the rights of minority segments or against racial discrimination.

In all the above scenarios, we are rightfully not letting deviations in human beings become important enough to legitimise inequalities. It is sad then, to witness sheer dichotomy in our approach when it comes to animals. So maybe we just consider fellow humans as our equals and not non-humans. But then my question is, how can we choose to do so whilst living in an ecological system where humans are not self- sufficient and are highly dependent on animals for survival?

It is important to remember that we share our planet with these animate beings and that every being on this planet is there for a reason; the least we can do is attach some value to their lives. It is utterly disconcerting to me how the supposedly progressive mind-set of this prince, with a pool of possibly many self-endowed platitudes, chooses to demonstrate sheer negligence when it comes to the life of these birds.

When we think of a bird we think of many physical attributes- feathers, wings and beaks? But then there is one body part that we very conveniently choose to ignore – the beating heart.

Does it not mean that a bird too is a living creature that deserves some amount of consideration for its life?

I am concerned about the sort of mentality we are endorsing when we choose to limit this consideration with checking whether the one taking this life is an Arab royal or not.

It may be worthy to point out that the population of houbara bustard is rapidly declining. This too is largely accredited to us humans. The imprudent hunting is responsible for the virtual annihilation of the specie. It is about time we start taking pertinent measures to create awareness among the people about the importance of safeguarding animal rights and reverse what we ourselves have started.

Animals like humans have feelings. They can, like humans, feel pain – both mental and physical. What they cannot do like humans is speak for themselves and hence they need to have someone speak on their behalf. That is one thing they are dependent on us humans for and we should not let them down.

Ammarah Aftab

Ammarah Aftab

The author has completed her bachelors from NUST and is looking to encourage respect and value for all living creatures. She tweets as @ammarah_aftab (twitter.com/ammarah_aftab)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    That was a well reasoned passionate appeal ……..but made to a stone wall.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar

    Thanks Ammarah for writing this. These princes have been destroying our wildlife for decades now — they are given a free pass coz they give us money/aid. Another reason that we need to rise as a nation in all areas and let other peoples stop taking advantage of us. P.S., the saudi days are numbered by the way. If the Ummayads and the abbasi caliphates didnt last, the saudis dont stand a chance. Their legacy is nothing but hedonism – which incidentally is completely anti-thetical to Islam.Recommend

  • rasgullah

    Pakistan- Minorities not safe, women not safe, even muslims not safe and now, even animals are not safe,Recommend

  • water bottle

    I challenge you to prove me I am wrong when I tell you that Ayat 17:27 equates wastefulness to Satan.
    Such is the wisdom of Quranepak.

    What is this if not wastefulness of the precious gifts of Allah? People should be ashamed of yourselves for calling themselves as Muslims and breaking every code.


  • Chitrali

    Look at it this way: This Saudi Royal is a very callous mentally challenged
    person. With no idea what conservation is. Or any respect for wildlife. There
    is barely any wild life left in Saudia. All hunted to extinction. These royals
    have been coming here for decades. And hunting with impunity. With huge
    ‘baksheesh’ spread around. This is the only country, shame faced country

    just a hop and a skip away, that will allow this. They could not get away with

    anywhere else.Recommend

  • Haris Javed

    Subsidized fuel, $ 1.5 billion, investment in sagging economy, tons of dates and so on.. . poor Houbara Bustards were the least expected in returnRecommend

  • MrRollsRoyce

    Ms Aftab, thank you for writing on a topic that is mostly overlooked in our country, where human life is cheap and animal life is, well, beyond cheap, it is considered free to kill them without thought given to declining species or even basic animal protection.

    The topic you write on touches on two points: the nature of modern hunting, and the kowtowing we Pakistanis do to the Arab shiekhs.

    Talking about hunting first, I don’t understand the psyche that drives the need for men using modern weapons to kill defenseless creatures for sport. There is no danger to the hunter’s own life, it is a completely unfair fight between man and beast. There is nothing manly about shooting dead a lion or a deer or a flying bird with a rifle or shotgun. The honorable way to kill for sport would be to go hand-to-claw against the creature, or use melee weapons such as daggers or even swords agains dangerous animals such as lions. This is what the gladiators of ancient rome were forced to do. Yes there is a high chance the human would be injured or killed, and that’s what makes it a fair fight, and thus worthy of being called a “sport”.

    In the modern world any man that goes out to kill animals using guns purely for sport (and not out of a need to fulfill desperate hunger), and especially if the hunted animal belongs to an endangered species, is a coward of the highest order and I personally hold such men in high disrespect.

    Now on to the shaikhs, it is amazing how the Pakistani populace and government bend over backwards to accommodate their illegal activities. We let a single Saudi kill 2100 birds of a species that is protected by the laws of Pakistan and is close to extinction and let him get away without any fuss. If a Pakistani does the slightest crime in the middle eastern countries he will first of all be humiliated by the native Arabs, and then given harsh punishment by the courts.

    Amazing isn’t it how spineless and blind we are when it comes to serving people who are racist towards Pakistanis?Recommend

  • Rangoonwala

    You should be preaching your message across the border. We don’t need Indians bad mouthing Islam. We have enough clerics telling us what to do.Recommend

  • water bottle

    What kind of a Muslim are you, who do not know his own scripture? Shameful that Pakistan is full of people like you who don’t understand everything and can’t even read properly.

    And that’s why Pakistanis are failing at everything. Instead of reading and understanding your own scripture you are depending on corrupt, self serving clerics.Recommend

  • Faisal Karim Kundi

    yes Ammarah Aftab i agree with you what you have written and one should know that Pakistan is the only country i think where a citizen of a country is not allowed to hunt and the foreigners are allowed to hunt. we allow Arabs on the name of foreign diplomacy and issue them permits which they misuse. will these Arab countries allow us in their country to misuse permit issued to Pakistani. on the other side Pakistan citizens are not allowed to carry falcons and trapping and how can Federal & Provincial Governments Head gift them falcons, where do they get this from?Recommend

  • Master Mind

    Well written, i am impressed.
    This is a lie that we are a Nation of 20 crore People.
    Actually, we are an illiterate huge crowd with no planning of life.Recommend

  • Motiwala

    What kind of Hindu are you? You should worry about the cast
    system. The untouchables. Suttee. Women immolating themselves on their husbands funeral pyres. Number one
    country for infanticide. Killing female babies. There is a
    shortage of women. Foreign tourists, women, getting raped
    every other day. Worry about your problems. On the other side of the border.Recommend

  • Peshawar wala

    You should be reading the bhagvat gita. It is 700 pages
    long. Better still, memorize it.Recommend

  • water bottle

    It’s not cast, it’s caste. It’s not Sattee, it’s Sati. Google when was the last case of Sati was.
    And I do worry about caste system and female infanticide.

  • Talha Rizvi

    But trolls like you are free to rant here. Yes Indian troll I know your reality. ET please publish for general education.Recommend

  • Asad

    Wow. It’s really interesting how people show their lack of comprehension skills on the internet for the whole world to see. ‘water bottle’ wasn’t bad mouthing Islam or the Quran. He was actually praising it. Recommend

  • Hasan Abdal wala

    Find a sadhu or guru. Get some piece of mind.
    Buy some nirvana. One of the gods might favor you.

  • Supriya Arcot

    why blame him per se. Who / why/ how did they gave him the permit in the first place ?Recommend

  • Jumma Khan Shinwari

    This is an Indian troll. You should have read his past comments,
    Very derogatory comments on Muslims. In ET. He was reported to ET. long history of anti Pakistani and anti Muslim comments.
    Why would a Hindu be interested in quoting ayats? Hard to
    believe it is in good faith.
    He should restrict his quotes to other side of the border.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Arabs have found out that money can buy anything … and unfortunately we Pakistanis are cheap stuff !!!! If Qaddafi can pitch a tent in London for his stay, “hum kiss khait ki mooli hain” ?Recommend

  • Kulwnt Singh

    The women immolating on their husband funeral pyreswhich was called satti was stopped by Raja Ram Mohan Rai 125 years back but you will believem your text books and there is no rape in Pakistan raping a women by the orders of jirga and do not forget your forfathers were also Hindus and every thing you talk about is also taking place in the land of pure.Recommend

  • Kulwnt Singh

    And now they are doing the same to you country firstly the licence to kill the birds should not have been granted and if licence was for 100 birds how he killed2100 if you fail to protestg it will go on unabated.Recommend

  • rasgullah

    Mullah bhai, but what to do? Internet is western invention for all to use and not an Arabic one. If you don’t want us to comment, restrict your newspapers to your country.Recommend

  • Chitrali

    Did you read the comment ? Please read it again carefully. Understood most of you have a blinding hatred for all things Muslim or Pakistani. ET allows Indian trolls to rant here.Recommend