Houbara bustards is a rare, vulnerable species | YouTube
Houbara bustards are a rare, vulnerable species | YouTube
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New Delhi: The Pakistani government granted special permission to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and 14 other members of his family, to hunt an internationally endangered migratory bird.

According to reports, the prince and his delegation landed in the country Tuesday and will be hunting houbara bustards in the Sindh district.

The houbara bustards, also known as Asian houbara, are listed as a rare and vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and have a global population ranging between 50,000 to 1,00,000. The bird’s meat is also considered an aphrodisiac.

This special permission is being viewed as ‘soft diplomacy’ between the Arab world and Pakistan.

This is also not the first time Pakistan has engaged in such diplomacy. In December 2019 as well, the government had granted the Emir special permission to hunt the bustards.

Pakistan-born molecular biologist wins Germany’s prestigious award

Karachi-born Asifa Akhtar, a molecular biologist at Germany’s Max Planck society ( a research organisation) will receive one of the country’s prestigious research awards, the Leibniz Prize 2021, for her groundbreaking cell-biological work on the mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation.

Akhtar is also the first international female vice president of the biology and medicine section of Max Planck society.

Akhtar got her doctorate at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, UK in 1997 and then shifted to Germany to work in the field of molecular biology.

Imran Khan’s book of the month recommendation

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has recommended the book ‘History of the Pathans’ by Haroon Rashid for the month of December.

In an Instagram post, Khan wrote — “This month I recommend the book “History of the Pathans” by Brig (r) Haroon Rashid. Volume 7 which I am reading is about Pathan tribes like mine who came to India from Afghanistan in the last one thousand years and settled in various parts of India. It traces the role they played in shaping the history of India”.

Khan has been posting monthly book recommendations. In November, he recommended  ‘Capitalism’s Achilles Heel’ by Raymond W. Baker, describing the book to be an “eye-opening account of how white collar criminals, businessmen & politicians illegally launder their dirty money and how it affects individuals, institutions & countries”.

Islamabad’s only zoo shuts down

Weeks after Kaavan, the world’s loneliest elephant, was rescued from the Islamabad Zoo, two Himalayan brown bears named Babloo and Suzie were also airlifted Wednesday to a sanctuary in Jordan. They were the last inhabitants of the zoo, which has now shut down. It was the only zoo in the city.

The Islamabad Zoo had drawn international criticism for its treatment of the lonely elephant and severe living conditions in the premises.

US singer Cher, who had campaigned vociferously for Kaavan’s rehabilitation, had said that the Islamabad High Court’s decision to shift the elephant to a sanctuary in Cambodia was “one of the greatest moments of her life”.

Pakistan’s new anti-rape law

Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi has signed a new anti-rape law that has several strict provisions for crimes against women and children. According to the law, the trials for such cases will now be completed within four months and stricter punishment will be given to those accused of sexual offences against women and children.

This comes just months after the gang rape of a woman in front of her children in Punjab highway, sparked national outrage. After this incident, PM Imran Khan called for public hangings and chemical castration of rapists.

The trials are expected to be heard by special courts that will expedite convictions in rape and sexual assault cases under the new law, which now must be ratified by the Parliament within 120 days to become a permanent law.

“The ordinance will help expedite cases of sexual abuse against women and children,” the office of the President said in a statement Tuesday.

Pakistan ranks 130th in the UN Women Global Database’s Gender Equality index and is the third last in the World Economic Forum Gender Gap index 2020.

Also read: Imran Khan aide Dr Sania Nishtar, actor Mahira Khan named in BBC’s 100 Women 2020 list