KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has gone out of his way to bestow on an influential bureaucrat a special permit, which was hitherto exclusively reserved for foreigners, to hunt a highly rare species of mountain sheep (urial) in the Khirthar Range, it is learnt.
The urial is facing the threat of extinction and is protected under the law.
According to sources, the Sindh government issues a limited number of hunting permits for the urial — against a fee of around $13,000 each — to foreigners under its controversial trophy hunting programme but the bureaucrat, Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) director general Faqir Manzoor Qadir, has managed to become the first Pakistani to get it and that too without making any payment.
The influence of the bureaucrat with the chief minister could be gauged from the fact that three notifications were issued within a day one after the other — the last one well into the midnight — for different protected species of animals to please the bureaucrat.
In his Feb 20, 2014, application to the chief minister Mr Qadir says: “In 2012 you were very kind to grant me a permit for hunting an Ibex but the facility was never availed. It is, therefore, requested to please grant me a permit to hunt a mountain sheep.”
The chief minister approved it on March 26 and his staffer Mohsin Ali Shah passed it on to the wildlife department the following day. The request triggered a chain reaction and multiple notifications were issued within a day till the influential bureaucrat was pleased.
The first notification issued by Sindh Wildlife secretary Wasim Ursani on March 28 says: “With the approval of the competent authority and in exercise of powers conferred under Section 16 of Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance, 1972, the government of Sindh is pleased to accord permission in favour of Faqir Manzoor Qadir for hunting of one ibex during financial year 2013–14 in gratis at Khirthar Range.”
The sources said that when this permit fell short of pleasing Mr Qadir the wildlife department issued another the same day saying: “The department’s notification of even number dated March 28 regarding issuance of permission of one Sindh Ibex in favour of Faqir Manzoor Qadir is hereby withdrawn.”
Then the third notification was issued the same day around midnight, which says: “With the approval of the competent authority ... the Sindh government is pleased to accord permission in favour of Faqir Manzoor Qadir for hunting of one urial (mountain sheep) during current financial year 2013–14 in gratis at Khirthar range.”
Sindh Wildlife Conservator Javed Mahar recalled that he had to go to his village after office hours that day but his departure had been delayed for the issuance of the permits. After the issuance of the permit Mr Qadir hunted an urial within a day or two under the supervision of the wildlife staffers, he said.
Mr Qadir defended the permits and said that there was no illegality involved as the chief minister had the powers to grant the permit and likewise he had the powers to grant it in gratis.
He, however, added that he was the first Pakistani who had been granted the permit to hunt urial as only foreigners were given a limited number of hunting permits against a payment of around $12,000 to $13,000 each.
A compulsive hunter, Mr Qadir’s name came up with that of politician Shah Nawaz Khushk and a few little-known people in a poaching incident in the Khirthar National Park and was reported by then Conservator Saeed Baloch and highlighted by the media.
A few days afterwards, Mr Baloch was relieved of his post and was replaced by Hussain Bakhsh Bhaagat who cleared Mr Qadir and Mr Khushk of the poaching charge in a subsequent official inquiry.
Conservator Bhaagat held the post till his death while Mr Baloch remains without any post till this day and a junior official is holding the charge of conservator in total disregard of the apex court orders, according to the sources.