Forty people arrested for illegal gambling…on quail fights

  • Police arrest 40 people for gambling on quail fights in Pakistan
  • The pastime is popular in Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India

Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies are often called upon to enforce the nation’s strict gambling laws, but one recent police action has been making headlines for the unusual nature of the gambling activity that was targeted.

Quail fighting Pakistan
Wagering on quail fighting in Pakistan has led to the arrest of 40 people.

Earlier this week, Punjab police launched a raid in the city of Rahim Yar Khan to break up an alleged quail-fight gambling ring, according to The Nation news website.

The police, acting on a tip-off, swooped on a courtyard in the city, where a quail fight was underway and arrested 40 people. According to reports, millions of rupees had been wagered on the fight and, along with the arrests, the police recovered Rs103,500 ($1,592), 30 cellphones and six quail.

Tribal tradition

The tradition of keeping quail dates back all the way to the time of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and in Afghanistan, has been part of ethnic Pashtun culture for many centuries.

As with most other entertainments, quail fighting was made illegal in the country during Taleban rule, but has undergone a revival since 2001, in the Pashtun regions around Kabul and Kandahar. Quail-fighting is less popular in Pakistan, where it is seen mainly as an older man’s pastime, but is considered by some to be a reminder of rural life.

In a quail fight, two birds of similar size square off in a rudimentary ring, while onlookers bet on the outcome. Fights generally last around two to three minutes and are settled when one bird runs away.

While it is legal in Pakistan to own, breed and hunt quails, providing you obtain a licence from the Wildlife Department, gambling on the fights is illegal and has led to numerous police raids and prosecutions.

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