Pakistan’s Step Forward in the Direction of Animal Welfare: Islamabad Court Holds, Animals Have Natural Rights

Image Source : Dawn

At a time when the world is seeing a rise in crimes against animals, the Islamabad High Court has taken a step forward in the fight for protecting the rights of the animals. In a recent judgment the said Court has held, animals have natural rights and are also entitled to protection under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973. The High Court gave this decision while dealing with a case involving an elephant confined in a solitary zoo, a bear, forced to ‘dance’ and ‘perform tricks’ and the issue of killing of stray dogs.

The Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, Justice Athar Minallah, while giving his opinion said, “whether animals have rights? The answer to the said question is yes, that too without the existence of any second thoughts with respect to the same.” Furthermore, while dealing with a two-part question which was raised in front of the Court,

  • Do animals have independent rights, whether humans have a duty to protect them and
  • Does violating animal rights or treating animals cruelly, violate rights?

The Court held, first, yes, Animals have independent rights and humans have a duty to protect them, these rights are enshrined under Pakistan’s laws protecting animal cruelty and Islamic religious doctrines. Secondly, the court held, yes, violating animal rights violates human rights as it disturbs the environment and the balance of nature, and ‘right to life’, a fundamental human right includes the right to a clean and healthy environment.

The said judgement also reprimands the concept of keeping wild animals in zoos, the Court in this regard stated, the practice of keeping wild animals in zoos prevents wild animals from engaging in their natural behaviors as zoos are nothing like their natural habitats. Although the Court has approached a few issues raised in front of it with a human-centric ideology, the said ruling of the Court is highly critical of humanity’s treatment of wild animals and unambiguously holds that animals have legal rights and wild animals are the primary beneficiaries of the same. 

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