Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has earlier opposed such permits for Arab royals, this time personally approved the special pass, reported the Dawn newspaper.

The Pakistan government has issued at least seven special permits to Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and six other members of the ruling family to hunt the internationally protected bird houbara bustard during the 2020-21 hunting season, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has earlier opposed such permits for Arab royals, this time personally approved the special pass, reported the Dawn newspaper.

The foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol issued the documents after approval by the prime minister, the daily reported quoting sources. The permits were delivered to the UAE Embassy in Islamabad.

Apart from Dubai Ruler Rashid Al-Maktoum, the others given permits are the crown prince, deputy ruler and finance and industries minister, deputy police chief, an army official, two other members of the royal family and a businessman.

Khan, when in Opposition, had campaigned against such hunting excursions by the rich Arab families, who annually visit Pakistan to hunt the endangered bird.

A Saudi prince, Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, is said to have gunned down 1,977 birds on reserved and protected areas over 21 days in January 2014, while other members of his party killed another 123 birds, bringing the total to 2,100.

The killing resulted in a lot of criticism but the practice has been going on. The bird’s meat is considered by Arabs to be an aphrodisiac.

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