By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan has granted a special permission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the export of 150 falcons for the personal use of its prime minister.
A letter dated Sept. 27 from the Foreign Ministry to the UAE Embassy said: "The esteemed embassy may export 150 falcons from Pakistan to the UAE for personal use of His Highness Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President/ Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai."
The request was made on July 3 but the former caretaker government of Pakistan did not entertain the export of these migratory birds, a Foreign Ministry official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The approval came after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited UAE in late September.
Local broadcaster Geo News reported the permission was granted despite a ban on the hunting of falcons, rare and migratory birds in the country.
Arab princes and their wealthy friends visit Pakistan every year to hunt houbara bustard, a rare bird, in a government initiative to promote soft diplomacy with Gulf nations, despite calls by wildlife activists against the move.
Falconry, using trained falcons to hunt wild animals for sport, is a centuries-old tradition of Arabs.