The Saudis prove that the arrogance of royalty can often know no bounds as an advance party of a Saudi prince has arrived with his falcons in Chagai district of Balochistan. The young hunter, Governor of Tabuk, Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, will be killing game birds for a few weeks, something that has recently been banned by the Pakistan government. A part of Chagai district has been dedicated to the prince for this purpose. Last year, he was able to hunt 2,100 rare birds and this sparked an international outcry. Thus the Balochistan High Court (BHC) cancelled all special hunting permits issued by the federal government. The party is here despite knowing that the permits have been discontinued. Not only Saudi royalty, but an advance party of the United Arab Emirates Vice President and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has also been scoping out the area for potential game.

The problem is not just that these royals feel that they have a right to the game, but that local government and elites have allowed them to have this right. Rather the foreigners relying on rule of law and automatically staying away knowing that the ban will be enforced, they have the audacity to come here and act in brazen opposition to the law with no objections. Wildlife officials have little say over the hunting issue because of the influence wielded by the royal hunters. Whenever a wildlife official reports illegal hunting, he is punished. We don’t respect our own laws while every few days a Pakistani loses his head for breaking Saudi laws, caught drug trafficking.

The second issue is not just that of law but of the preservation of these birds. The next generation should not be seeing these majestic birds only in books. We have been bowing down to Saudi influence and interest for decades now, such that it bleeds into such little things, and this has to stop. While Balochistan has bigger issues to tackle, such as missing persons and separatism, the civil society there should not let this one go. This is a matter of provincial autonomy and the preservation of natural resources including flora and fauna. Yet, with the public consensus against the hunt, we are all uncertain about whether the Pakistani government has the guts to say no to the Saudis.