Pakistan inherited the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890 from the British. However, the only amendment made to the Act since the independence of the country was in 2018 (Dawn, 2018). Although the Act remains comprehensive in many areas and regards animals as sentient beings that can feel pain and suffering, many areas require further legislation to inculcate higher values of animal welfare in Pakistani society. The subject is a provincial matter, and each province can decide their animal and wildlife protection laws according to the local needs (AWI, 2020). It cannot be said that no efforts are being made towards animal welfare in Pakistan. There have been legislations made in the past that deal with humane treatment of animals, however, the current prevention of cruelty to animals act is outdated and no longer reflects the scientific and cultural understanding of animal welfare. Continue reading to understand the legislative dimension of animal rights in Pakistan.
Animal Welfare in Pakistan
Pakistan’s law on animal welfare extends from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890. The law is comprehensive; however, there is little mandate for animals in zoos and farms, which leads to lower standards of animal welfare (Govt. of Pakistan, 2018). Animal abandonment is illegal in Pakistan, and guidance for the care of pets and guidance animals are also limited. Several reports of mass poisonings of stray dogs taking place are also common in cities like Lahore and Karachi. However, no formal government authority takes responsibility for animal welfare in the country. Sentience for animals is not formally recognised in Pakistani law. However, there is an acknowledgement that animals can feel pain and suffering. Therefore, the Act calls for domesticated and captured animals to be protected and saved from injury. It must be noted that this legislation was devised in 1890 and has not been updated since 1938. The last amendment in Pakistan was made in 2018. Therefore, a lack of attention towards animal welfare is evident.
The government of Pakistan is yet to incorporate current scientific research regarding animal sentience in the country’s legislation. Over the years, the government does not seem to consider animal welfare as an important issue, despite Pakistan being a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health. Pakistan also has animal protection laws that prohibit causing animal suffering by deliberate acts of cruelty or failure of acting in a certain situation. Since these prohibitions are for domestic and captured animals only, those in the wild are not subject to these laws. The law provides a very basic level of security against abuse and cruelty but requires up-gradation in several aspects to cover a wider range of scenarios. Pakistan also has laws regarding animals used in farming including rearing, transport, and slaughter guidelines. The Punjab Poultry Production rules (2017) and Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Act (1963) provide comprehensive guidelines in this regard. Some laws also apply to animals in captivity such as the Northern Areas Wildlife Preservation Act (1975). In the case of companion animals, Pakistan’s legislation does not provide any specific definition of companionship. There is also no policy concerning stray animals and their protection, although their killing is rampant in society.
Government Support for Future Animal Welfare Programs
Pakistan has incorporated the OIE, World Organisation for Animal Health, guiding principles for animal welfare into various policies and legislation standards (Animal welfare, 2008). The OIE animal welfare standards include a focus on transport, slaughter, breeding systems, stray dog population control, and the use of animals in research and education. These standards have not yet been amended into Pakistan’s legislation; however, a framework and understanding of the future direction are available. In 2013, the government of Pakistan also nominated a representative from the livestock and dairy development ministry to participate in the regional animal welfare strategy. Furthermore, the government has also pledged support for the universal declaration on animal welfare. It is a proposed formal international acknowledgement of a set of principles that give animal welfare do recognition among governments and the international community.
The government of Pakistan needs to amend the prevention of cruelty to animals’ act 1890 to ensure protection for all animals and align the anti-cruelty measures with the current animal welfare science practices. Furthermore, the government should ensure that the regulations and requirements surrounding animal welfare standards should be legally binding and species-specific while also being aligned with OIE animal welfare standards. Regular inspection of farms and slaughter establishments should be carried out and the government should assign the responsibility for improving the animal welfare in an area to a specific government ministry at a national level, while also promoting private institutes to provide welfare policy solutions to always ensure the humane Treatment of Animals.
Pakistan adopted the prevention of cruelty to animals’ act 1890 from the British since independence. While being a comprehensive act covering multiple dimensions of animal welfare, the law had not been amended since 1937. The current law does not reflect the international standards for animal welfare and does not take into account recent scientific discoveries regarding animal sentience. Therefore, the act must be amended to ensure that all the regulations and requirements surrounding animal welfare standards should be made legally binding per the OAI animal welfare standards.
Animal Welfare Organisation (2008). Animal welfare. Retrieved from https://www.oie.int/app/uploads/2021/03/bull-2008-2-eng.pdf
AWI. (2020). Pakistan. Retrieved from Animal Welfare Index: https://api.worldanimalprotection.org/country/pakistan#:~:text=Zoos-,The%20anti%2Dcruelty%20provisions%20in%20sections%203%20to%205%20of,have%20their%20own%20wildlife%20department.
Dawn. (2018). Bill suggests increasing punishment for animal cruelty. Retrieved from https://www.dawn.com/news/1387871
Govt. of Pakistan. (2018). THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY OF ANIMALS ACT, 1890. Retrieved from https://balochistan.gov.pk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/THE-PREVENTION-OF-CRUELTY-OF-ANIMALS-ACT-1890.doc.pdf
On what level does Pakistan recognize animal rights?
What is the state of animal welfare legislation in Pakistan?
Are there any supportive government bodies that deal in animal welfare activities?
Does Pakistan support international animal welfare standards?
Pakistan inherited the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890 from the British. However, the only amendment made to the Act since the independence of the country was in 2018.
Although the Act remains comprehensive in many areas and regards animals as sentient beings that can feel pain and suffering, many areas require further legislation to inculcate higher values of animal welfare in Pakistani society.
The subject is a provincial matter, and each province can decide their animal and wildlife protection laws according to the local needs.
Pakistan has incorporated the OIE’s guiding principles for animal welfare into various policies and legislation standards. The OIE animal welfare standards include a focus on transport, slaughter, breeding systems, stray dog population control, and use of animals in research and education.