ISLAMABAD: In a rare move to ensure animal rights in Pakistan, the government on Thursday banned testing and surgeries on live animals at veterinary schools and industrial complexes in the federal capital while announcing Rs15,000 ($73) fine and jail term for animal cruelty offenders.
The decision came only a few weeks after people expressed their outrage after discovering that veterinary schools were using live animals, including dogs, cats and rabbits, to teach students how to perform incision and stitching.
“Live testing of animals in vet colleges and industrial complexes is banned from today in Islamabad Capital Territory,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms Unit Head Salman Sufi announced during a news conference.
He said the government was introducing amendments to a British-era law to bring about the change, adding a notification had already been issued for the Islamabad region in this connection to ensure animals welfare.
“Amendments for national level law are ready ... The bill will be tabled in the National Assembly during the next session [for debate and approval],” he continued.
Sufi said this was going to be “Pakistan’s first comprehensive animal welfare law” while pointing out the government would also encourage provinces to implement it in their respective territories as well.
He informed that citizens would be able to report any act of cruelty toward animals through a hotline, noting that the offenders would face Rs5,000 to Rs15,000 fine along with jail term.
The head of the PM’s strategic reforms unit noted a standard set of guidelines was also going to be announced to regulate pet markets across the country, adding that violators would be fined and their shops could be closed.
Discussing other reforms, Sufi said the government was going to facilitate laborers and professionals who were planning to go abroad by abolishing the protectorate stamp.
“Our laborers and professionals will no more be required to visit the protectorate office physically,” he said. “They remit precious foreign exchange and it is the responsibility of the government and private sector to facilitate them.”
Other than that, he said the administration of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was setting up violence against women centers in Punjab and Sindh provinces while also planning to provide scooties to female teachers, students and entrepreneurs on subsidized rates as part of the Women on Wheels program.
“If we want women to participate in the national economy, we will need to remove the biggest hurdle in their mobility by providing them scooties,” he said.
Sufi also informed the government was going to launch “Safar Saheli” app and place panic buttons in train carriages to facilitate female passengers to timely alert authorities in case of any problem.
Among other issues, he also emphasized data privacy of citizens, saying any unsolicited message from companies to cellphone users must have an unsubscribe option from July 1.
“Even after unsubscribing the unwanted messages, if a citizen receives them again, the relevant company will be fined and banned,” he said.