Sindh may soon become the first province of the country to acknowledge the rights of animals. A draft bill on the matter was approved by the Sindh cabinet on December 30, 2017. The bill states that animals will have a right to adequate shelter and protection from all kinds of abuse. Once passed as law, the bill will make it illegal to kill, kick, ill-treat, overload, torture, infuriate and terrify animals. The draft law has been enabled through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The issue of animal rights had been devolved to the provinces in the amendment. It’s unfortunate that it took the provincial authorities so long to legislate on the issue. Other provinces should also follow in Sindh’s footsteps and consider similar laws to end abuse of animals. Sindh’s draft law is not the first related to animal cruelty. A law dating back to 1890 called the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act exists in the country but it has mostly remained on paper only. Additionally, the latest bill isn’t just about cruel practices per se, it recognises shelter and safety as inalienable rights of animals. We hope that the bill kick starts the process through which animal abuse will come to an end. The draft law has punishments ranging from three months to three years, depending on the gravity of the offense. While it is good in theory, there will be several challenges in implementing the law considering public attitudes towards animals aren’t exactly in line with the spirit of the law. Thus, the new bill must be used as an opportunity to spread awareness about the issue of animal rights. The authorities will also need to set up facilities where abandoned animals could be sheltered and hire relevant human resource. We hope that the draft has been approved by the Sindh cabinet keeping in mind these challenges, because it would be a travesty if the bill ends up like its predecessor from the colonial era — existing only in paper, with no presence on ground. * Published in Daily Times, January 5th 2018.