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I. Wild Animal Wet Markets in Pakistan

Although Pakistan is not known as a major wildlife consumer country, it has been a significant source and transit point for the East Asian trade in illegal wildlife, and wild animal markets exist in nearly all its major cities, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pakistan.[1] One study reported to have been conducted by WWF Pakistan notes that Karachi has “hosted the highest number of markets and shops dealing in illegal wildlife followed by Peshawar.”[2] These are primarily for international illegal trade of wildlife as pets and for overseas consumption.[3] In May 2017, a study conducted by the WWF found “that in a sample of 288 shopkeepers across 23 cities of Pakistan, all of them were involved in illegal wildlife trade, in one way or another.”[4]

Although wild animal meat and other derivatives appear to be mostly for traditional medicinal purposes, one news report notes that “consumption of dried meat of the Indian cobra and sand lizard is recorded to be widespread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.”[5] One news report also notes that “[a]uthorities say that pangolin meat is being sold in the local market,” which caters to Chinese nationals, but also notes that “these allegations have never been formally investigated or proven.”[6]

II. Legal Framework

In Pakistan, wildlife protection and management appears to be a provincial responsibility under the Constitution.[7] Each province, and the federal capital territory of Islamabad,[8] has a wildlife protection law that prohibits the illegal trade and trafficking of prohibited wildlife.[9] Buying, selling, and otherwise dealing in wild animals and their meat derivatives are also prohibited.[10]

Restrictions on animal slaughter are regulated by provincial laws, rules, and municipal by-laws. Some provincial-level animal slaughter laws appear to restrict the sale of meat,[11] but the applicability of these laws is usually limited to certain animals, including bulls, bullocks, buffaloes, buffalo-bulls, camels, cows, goats, ostriches, sheep or any other halal animal (animals prepared as prescribed by Islamic law). The law in the province of Punjab prohibits the selling or supplying of meat or the carcass of a “haram animal” or of the “meat or carcass of any animal which has been slaughtered in contravention of this Act or does not bear the stamp, mark, tag or certification of the slaughter-house specified by the concerned local authority” or the selling or causing to be sold of “any meat at a place other than that set apart or approved for this purpose by the concerned local authority.”[12]

Food sanitation and safety are regulated by provincially adopted laws such as the Punjab Food Authority Act, 2011.[13] Public and private markets, including the rules for their licensing, appear to be governed by provincial local government laws and municipal by-laws.[14] However, no particular legal framework was found for the regulation of wildlife markets.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and provincial governments have issued various guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs), including those that address health and preventative measures that need to be taken in markets and during the slaughtering of animals on the occasion of the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.[15]

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Prepared by Tariq Ahmad
Foreign Law Specialist
August 2020

[1] WWF Statement on Closing of Illegal Wildlife Trade in Markets Across the Asia Pacific Region Following Coronavirus Outbreak (Jan. 31, 2020),

[2] Faiza Ilyas, Illegal Trade in Wildlife Rife Across Pakistan, Says Study, (last updated Mar. 12, 2018),

[3] WWF Recommends Action Against Wildlife Open Markets, Express Trib. (Apr. 8, 2020),   

[4] Tehseen Khalid & Samra Minhaj, Illegal Wildlife Trade in Pakistan, in 4(7-8) Pakistan Inst. for Parliamentary Servs. Parliamentary Res. Dig. 11-18 (July-Aug. 2017),

[5] Faiza Ilyas, supra note 2.

[6] Chinese Appetite for Pangolins Threaten [sic] Their Numbers, Express Trib. (May 28, 2019),

[7] Pakistan Const., as modified up to May 31, 2018, See Khalid & Minhaj, supra note 4, at 13.  

[8] Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Ordinance, 1979,

[9] Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, No. 2 of 1974,; Sind Wild-life Protection Ordinance, No. 5 of 1972 (Apr. 13, 1972),; Balochistan (Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, No. 14 of 2014, Balochistan Provincial Assemb. Secretariat,; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife and Biodiversity (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 2015,   

[10] Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act,  § 15.

[11] Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Act, No. 3 of 1963,

[12] Id. § 3(3).

[13] Punjab Food Authority Act, No. 16 of 2011,

[14] Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, No. 28 of 2013, § 113, seventh sched. Part II (“Bye-laws”),; Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, § 19-23, Judge’s Library, High Court of Sindh,

[15] Guidelines, Gov’t of Pakistan,; Gov’t of Pakistan, Guidelines for Eid ul Adha for Prevention of Corona Virus (July 12, 2020),

Last Updated: 12/31/2020