PTI govt relaxes arms policy for foreign hunters

PM Imran Khan took keen interest to remove restrictions to promote tourism


Zafar Bhutta April 01, 2019
PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The government has amended a policy to ease restrictions for temporary import and export of arms and ammunition in a bid to attract foreign hunters and tourists to the country, with the role of the commerce division excluded.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken keen interest to remove restrictions for foreign hunters carrying arms and ammunition to promote tourism in Pakistan, which would help generate revenue.

A senior government official told Express Tribune that the commerce division had informed the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in a recent meeting that hunting and sporting activity coupled with improved law and order situation in Gilgit-Baltistan had huge potential to attract foreign hunters and tourists, which would contribute to the government’s efforts for revenue generation and earning much needed foreign exchange for the country.

However, a lengthy and cumbersome procedure for getting a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Interior for carrying arms and ammunition for hunting on receipt of a request from the Gilgit-Baltistan Council and another NOC from commerce division for temporary import-cum-export of arms and ammunition had discouraged the growth of such tourism.

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The Gilgit-Baltistan Council forwarded the cases to the commerce division for issuance of NOC for temporary import-cum-export of arms and ammunition.

The commerce division issued the required NOC following approval of the cabinet under para 20 of the Import Policy Order 2016 wherein the existing prohibition and restrictions for import of arms and ammunition were relaxed in favour of foreign hunters for temporary import-cum-export of hunting arms and ammunition.

In order to make the process easy, the prime minister approved the proposal of the interior ministry suggesting that NOC from the ministry for carrying arms and ammunition by foreign hunters may be considered sufficient for temporary import-cum-export of hunting arms and, hence, the requirement of another NOC from commerce division for temporary import-cum-export of arms and ammunition may be done away with.

The commerce division said that the proposal of interior ministry necessitated an amendment to the Import Policy Order. Section 3(1) of the Imports and Exports (control) Act 1950 empowers the federal government to prohibit, restrict or otherwise control the import and export of goods of any specified description subject to such conditions and exceptions as may be stipulated for such import and or export.

The commerce division proposed that after clause (q) of para 12 of the order, a clause might be inserted to allow temporary import-cum-export of arms and ammunition by the foreign hunters. It proposed that ‘temporary import-cum-export of arms and ammunition by foreign hunters shall be allowed subject to NOC from Ministry of Interior’.

The ECC considered the proposal and allowed the foreign hunters temporary import-cum-export of arms and ammunition subject to NOC from the Ministry of Interior.

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