LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday sought a report from the Ministry of Climate Change and the PML-N on a petition against exhibition of white tigers in public meetings and rallies during the election campaign.
The court directed the ministry to submit until June 21 details of the licences issued during the last five years for the import of animals.The bench remarked that it was a matter of grave concern if there was no check on the import and utilisation of animals, especially wild cats. The bench also observed that it was necessary to see the number of licences issued for the import of animals and the procedure for issuing such licences.It also issued a notice to the PML-N through its secretary general and summoned the director general of the Punjab Wildlife Department.
The bench had already issued notices to the Lahore district coordination officer and the World Wildlife Fund.Actress and human rights activist Faryal Gohar moved the petition in which she made the Election Commission Of Pakistan (ECP), climate change division secretary, forestry secretary, Wildlife and Fisheries Department, district coordination officer and the World Wildlife Fund respondents.The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the PML-N being allocated the symbol of ‘tiger’ by the ECP for its election campaign was in the consistent practice of taking tigers and other big cats to its election rallies just to draw the crowds.
He said that a number of persons, without any check from the relevant authorities, have made it a practice to parade, with wild animals on the roofs of their cars.He pleaded that it amounted to violate the dignity and safety of wild and endangered animals, such as tigers. He submitted that even Islam teaches us that dignity and protections should be given to all animals, which these vulnerable creatures deserve.He said that this exhibition directly affect human safety as well, particularly when they (animals) are paraded in the public, especially at political rallies of the PML-N, which is in total violation of applicable domestic and international laws.
The counsel said that such exhibitions pose two immediate problems, a species such as the tiger is endangered and deserves proper treatment and care, and secondly, the presence of a wild animal among an ocean of people can cause undue stress to the big cats, leading to unpredictable behaviour that can threaten the security and lives of the people attending the rallies. He said that it also causes health threat of zoonoses (transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans) that is very prevalent to the citizens.
He said that the petitioner had brought this issue into the knowledge of the ECP for action to terminate the misuse of assigned political symbols, but to no avail. He said that the respondents were also under a legal obligation to ensure protection of big cats and to safeguard the lives and security of citizens living and present within their territorial jurisdiction, but none of them took any steps to bring this practice to a halt.
The counsel submitted that no relief was sought against the WWF, which is a specialised and globally renowned and well-respected entity that has among its aims wildlife conservation, and was party to this petition so that they may be pleased to invite their expert and qualified opinion on this matter.He said that the government was bound under the Pakistan Trade Control of Wild Fauna and Flora Act 2012 to ensure that no import permit was granted regarding wild animals without satisfaction that they would be suitably housed and taken care of within Pakistan.
He requested that the respondents may kindly be instructed to take all necessary actions for improving the condition of big cats in private breeding farms, including stricter licensing procedures and inspection mechanisms.He also requested the court to issue directions to the respondents to comply with their legal duty to ensure that no political party be allowed to exhibit wild cats in public threatening the security and safety of citizens. He sought directions for the forestry secretary, Wildlife and Fisheries Department and the DCO to ensure that no individual or entity can exhibit dangerous animals, such as wild cats, in public or keep them in residential areas.
He requested that the climate change division secretary and forestry secretary should be directed to take all necessary steps to ensure the dignified and safe existence of wild animals threatened with extinction in Pakistan.On this, the court asked the counsel to make the PML-N a respondent so that it could also be issued a notice in this regard. – DailyTimes