Senate Standing Committee on Interior recently passed a bill regarding prevention of cruelty to animals. The bill titled “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2018”, which was moved by Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja. With the passage of the bill amendments have been made in the British era animal rights law that was made back in 1890.
The bill that was inherited by Pakistan had minimal fines and was hence practically useless. For instance the fine for killing an animal with unnecessary cruelty was merely Rupees 200. The current bill has suggest that this fine should be increased to Rupees 0.3 million along with imprisonment. Similar the fine for killing a goat with cruelty in the old bill was merely Rupees hundred, the present bill suggests raising it to Rupees 0.2 million. Similarly, the fine for putting extraordinary load on animals and using them cruelly for labour was Rs100 which may now be increased to Rupees 0.2 million. Other fines that may see an increase include fine for inciting animals to fight from Rupees fifty to Rupees 0.3 million, fine for abandoning sick animals to be raised from Rupees fifty to Rupees 0.3 million.
Although the passage of a bill is a positive development and one that must be lauded because usually such issues are neglected in Pakistan. However what is important is that once this bill is passed into a law, the implementation of the law is ensured. At present there are hundreds of laws in Pakistan that are more or less redundant since their implementation is overlooked by relevant authorities.
Civil society and animal welfare activists have time and again called for the implementation of laws prohibiting animal cruelty. The British era law with minimal fines was also more or less redundant due to non implementation.
There is also a serious need to raise awareness regarding cruelty with animals. In most Pakistani cities street dogs are often poisoned by local authorities instead of being moved away from populated areas. The treatment being meted out to cats, dogs, donkeys and other domestic and street animals in Pakistan is also harrowing, most of the times. However, there is hope in the form of many animal volunteer organizations who look after ill and mistreated animals voluntarily. If awareness is raised regarding the issue and kids are taught at an early age in schools to treat animals with care, things could improve.