It began as a pastime: Javed Iqbal, pushing 50s, had a small cage on the rooftop of his home where he kept a horde of pigeons. Soon it became an obsession with him.

Today, at the smallish shop he has had for the past almost 25 years now, he deals in the common breed of pigeons, while the “most sought-after breed” — the “Teddy Sethwala kabootar” — is kept fondly back at his residence in China scheme, Lahore, in dedicated cages.

In an exclusive meeting with TNS, Iqbal says that he offers only the “common pigeons” for sale. These include Ferozpuri, Sialkoti, Rampuri, and Kamaggar kinds, which are most popular with the customers. Their prices range from Rs100 to a few hundreds.

According to Iqbal, “Teddy Sethwala Kabootar is a much-loved bird, not only in Pakistan but also abroad, especially in the UAE. This [specie] attracts the lovers of pigeons, for a variety of reasons: primarily because it is suitable for the flying competitions that are held in summers, considered to be the best time for such activities.

“Teddy Sethwala flies like an ace athlete,” he declares. “Of course, its beautiful features are the added attraction.”

The price of Teddy Sethwala starts at Rs50,000 and may go up to rupees one lac, or even more. “My friends in Karachi have often bought these from me, and then sold them to their Arab clients. Every once in a while I receive orders [of this variety] from the UK and other countries.”

People reach out to him through his friends and friends of friends. Among his local clients are professionals as well as those who just buy the birds for hobby’s sake.

Iqbal reveals that veteran film actor (the late) Yusuf Khan was also one of his regular clients. “He had a large number of pigeons on the rooftop [of his home],” he says.

People from different walks of life visit Iqbal and request for pigeons of their choice. “I have over 500 pigeons of the Teddy Sethwala specie in my home,” he reveals. “I may be among the very few people around who boast this huge a collection.”

He makes a special mention of a breed of pigeons that is still used as ‘messengers’: “We call them ‘qasid’ (messenger); they are sometimes used for espionage. They are trained for six months or so. Teddy Sethwala is the best breed for the purpose.Rearing the pigeons is quite a job, and Iqbal makes sure that the birds get proper diet and are well taken care of. Every now and then he gets them vaccinated to keep them healthy and fit. As such, he is always on his toes.

“The qasid pigeons fly linear unlike any other breed of pigeons,” he adds.

Iqbal is all praise for Seth Ashraf who introduced the variety (named after him) through cross-breeding.


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