Pakistan will pay a United Arab Emirates prince a whopping Rs 3.6 crore as compensation for four of his falcons that flew away when customs officials mishandled them at the Rawalpindi airport causing him mental and emotional anguish.
After Sheikh Muhammad Sultan Ahmed Mualla lost his falcons at the airport in Rawalpindi in March, the Federal Tax Ombudsman directed the Federal Board of Revenue to pay him Rs 3.5 crore as compensation for the birds and an additional Rs 1 crore for the mental and emotional anguish caused to him, a media report said on Friday.
The ombudsman directed the FBR to submit a compliance report within 30 days, The News daily reported.
Sheikh Muhammad, a member of UAE's ruling family, had filed a petition with the Federal Tax Ombudsman, Shoaib Suddle, in which he said his falcons were taken away on arrival at the airport on March 10 and never returned.
An effort was made to recapture the birds but the prince returned disappointed to UAE after waiting a long time. No receipt was issued to the prince when the birds were taken into custody.
Suddle has directed the FBR to take money from the concerned customs officials to pay the compensation.
The customs authorities, in connivance with the Wildlife Department, had detained the falcons.
The falcons were initially taken into custody on the pretext of insufficient documentation and the prince was asked to complete formalities, like acquiring a no-objection certificate from the Wildlife Department.
The customs authorities told the ombudsman that the falcons were handed over to the Wildlife Department for proper care until the documentation was completed.
Wildlife Department officials later approached a local magistrate, saying the birds were unclaimed and should be released.
The judge passed the desired order without hearing the prince.
The prince's petition to the ombudsman pointed out that the action of the customs officials at the airport "was not only illegal, unjustified but also mala fide and with ulterior purpose of depriving the applicants of their valuable birds."
Members of the royal families of Arab states visit Pakistan every year for hunting expeditions. Some of them bring along birds like falcons for these expeditions.