PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has directed the climate change ministry to respond within a fortnight to a wildlife trader’s petition against the non-issuance of a no objection certificate to him by the government for importing a pair of elephants from Zimbabwe for the Peshawar Zoo.
A bench consisting of Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Abdul Shakoor directed deputy attorney general Asghar Khan Kundi to ensure the filing of those comments within 15 days and warned if that didn’t happen, it climate change ministry would be asked to pay the entire bill for the care, food and other stuff of the pair of elephants kept in Zimbabwe.
It fixed Jan 15 for the next hearing into the petition filed by the Mohammad Hanif and Engineer Construction Limited director, Mohammad Hanif, who sought the court orders for the climate change ministry to grant NOC to him for the early elephant import.
The petitioner prayed the court to direct the ministry to take up the matter with the inspector general of forests and relevant authorities as well. He also sought orders for the ministry, zoo administration, wildlife secretary, chief secretary and other respondents to pay him Rs92 million spent on the import of elephants since the contract was awarded.
The petitioner informed the court on the directives of the provincial government he had already purchased a pair of elephants in Zimbabwe that were being taken care of by the local wildlife department and the petitioner had to foot the bill on a daily basis.
He said the ministry had so far not filed comments on the petition despite the court’s orders.
Deputy attorney general Asghar Khan Kundi, additional advocate general Barrister Babar Shehzad and Peshawar Zoo deputy director Ishtiaqullah also appeared before the bench.
The petitioner said the refusal of NOC by the ministry despite him fulfilling legal requirements was a violation of Article 148 of the Constitution. He said the Peshawar Zoo director had issued a tender on Nov 2, 2017, for different animals.
The petitioner said he like others participated in the bidding for Sambar deer, barking deer, double hump camels, zebra, tiger and elephants and his rates for animals were accepted in line with specifications. He claimed that the zoo director issued him a work order for the supply of those animals.
The petitioner said he had provided Sambar deer, barking deer and double humps camels from the local market, while tigers and zebra were bought in Johannesburg, South Africa. He also said the Zimbabwean government agreed on the export of elephants to Pakistan subject to a visit to location and environment where they would be kept.
The petitioner claimed that a team of the Zimbabwe wildlife department visited Peshawar and found the zoo conducive for elephants, while he was granted permission by the director of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora on Nov 6 for the import of elephants.
He, however, said the climate change ministry verbally informed him about the NOC rejection claiming that CITES had banned the import of elephants.