By Shehzad Ali & Zulqarnain Iqbal, Samaa News
The Peshawar Zoo is fighting the federal government in court over permission to import two elephants from Zimbabwe.
The matter reached the highest court in the land with the Supreme Court asking the federal government on Tuesday, March 30, to explain how it plans to import the animals itself since it was not allowing the zoo to.
The petition challenging the federal government was filed by the Peshawar zoo’s contractor, Muhammad Hanif. He told the Supreme Court that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has already granted the zoo permission but the federal government had refused to issue a no-objection certificate.
Justice Yahya Afridi then asked under which law the federal government was refusing the NoC.
The hearing has been adjourned for two weeks.
The petition was filed in the top court on November 16, 2020. During the hearing, Justice Yahya Afridi asked about the Islamabad High Court ruling on the transfer of the country’s only Asian elephant, Kaavan, from the Islamabad zoo to a Cambodian sanctuary.
Advocate Niaz Wali Khan, the lawyer of the Peshawar Zoo, said the Islamabad zoo case is quite different from this one. “In that case, people wanted an elephant to be moved to a sanctuary, while we want to bring more elephants to Pakistan.”
A team of international experts has surveyed the zoo and said that it is suitable for the elephants, he said.
A three-member bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, issued notices to the respondents and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Peshawar Zoo has been in the limelight since it was inaugurated on February 22, 2018 because of the frequent mistreatment of animals and their deaths reported there.
Earlier this year in August, a number of people in Peshawar filed a joint petition at the Peshawar High Court against the negligence of the city’s zoo administration, which they claimed has resulted in the deaths of multiple animals.
The petitioners requested that the condition of the zoo should be upgraded as per international standards and animals not suited to the climate of Peshawar should be shifted to a sanctuary or some other zoo in Pakistan.
Throughout the year, multiple incidents have surfaced of disturbing deaths of animals. The construction of the Peshawar zoo was met with opposition by multiple civil society and animal rights organisations in 2018. The government, however, did not take them into consideration.