Culling of infected sheep

Published: September 19, 2012

This incident is a clear case of Pakistan willing to let itself be used as a dumping ground for products that would be outright rejected by rich countries. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

A lot of people should lose their jobs for allowing over 21,000 Australian sheep infected with salmonella and actinomyces to be imported into Pakistan, even though the sheep were previously rejected by Bahrain for being diseased. The first person to go should be the Sindh livestock and fisheries secretary, who lashed out at the media for printing test reports which showed that the sheep were infected. The executive director of the company which imported the sheep should also be shamed into resignation, not only because he was willing to release the animals into the market but also because he denounced the media for indulging in “fake” propaganda.

Punishment must also be accompanied by introspection. This incident was a clear case of Pakistan willing to let itself be used as a dumping ground for products that would be outright rejected by rich countries. As strongly as we should protest to Australia for assuming it could unload the animals in our country, the government also needs to avoid instantly taking a defensive posture when such public health scandals are brought to light. Now that the sheep have been confirmed as infectious, the government needs to ensure that they are culled in a safe and speedy manner and that there is no possibility of a single sheep making its way to our market.

Pakistan also needs to set safety standards for imports that match those that other countries have placed on us. Countries such as the US, Japan, South Korea and Jordan all banned the import of Pakistani mangoes for over a decade until we recently changed our vapour treatment of mangoes to mandate hot water treatment. It is time for us to be similarly careful about what food items and animals we allow into our country. Doing any differently would confirm that our government is hungry only for the almighty dollar. There is no way we should countenance boosting our foreign exchange reserves on the back of our health and safety.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.

 

Reader Comments (5)

  • Mirza
    Sep 19, 2012 - 2:31AM

    I am no expert on these animal diseases but can they be cured and the sheep treated instead of killing them and dumping them while people are starving. When the animals are kept in such a confined space they are going to infect each other if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease. Once the sheep are treated their meat is not going to be infected and it is cooked anyway before eating. It is just a thought without taking any position on this issue. Of course if Pakistan is paying full price for this rejected flock then there is no need to buy them.

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  • Truth
    Sep 19, 2012 - 4:49AM

    This media hype and smear campaign needs to stop and actually start investigating for the truth. The sheep arrived into Pakistan without infection and have been in Karachi since almost 2 weeks. They are still very lively, actively mobile, and show no signs of weakness or any sickness. Certain government officials, along with the media, and other such influential people have taken this story too far with false information, propaganda and lies. It would be more appropriate for Pakistani and international journalists to communicate and verify all information and evidence with Australian authorities, international doctors (i.e. vets) as well as legitimate and unbiased livestock experts to find out the truth of the entire matter. The sheep were in perfectly healthy condition throughout their travel and arrival into Pakistan. Healthy sheep consignments were also delivered to Oman and Qatar without any issues. Bahrain’s so-called “rejection” of the sheep was politically motivated. The vets traveling in the Australian ship as well as port authorities in Karachi allowed the arrival of the sheep into Pakistan because they were in good condition. The Australian exporters would not dare to sell infected animals anywhere in the world. It would only ruin their international reputation and future trade relations. Similarly, the accused Pakistani importer/exporter would not risk and jeopardize its own market reputation and export business.

    Still, what is unfortunate is that the sheep have yet to be tested properly and professionally within Pakistan. It is ridiculous, but local government officials and “doctors” visited the farm on numerous occasions before the culling process began, but they do not even have the sufficient means, knowledge or expertise to take effective blood samples and conduct proper tests. Yet their so-called “results” are being published and shared with the public without any verification. The information shared until now, and the super swift action taken to cull the sheep so far have been without legitimate evidence, all due to hidden interests, media pressure, commercial and political motives, and orders “from the top”. At present, the government-appointed butchers are merely slitting uninfected throats and dumping healthy sheep into deep ditches. One can only pray that this group of butchers, appointed by the Sindh Government, do not create an actual infection within the burial site of the dead sheep. Hopefully, the truth will surface from this media fiasco, political manipulation and mysterious motives.

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  • Muhammad Ziad
    Sep 19, 2012 - 8:51AM

    And here is the verdict from the editorial desk. Now that the petition has been filed watch the editor change his stance and or try to keep it low from here on.

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  • gp65
    Sep 19, 2012 - 10:23AM

    And what about the 190 million sheep that are being led to an unhappy end through intolerance, extremism and violence?

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  • Cautious
    Sep 19, 2012 - 7:52PM

    I have never read anything outside of Pakistan that even implies that scabby mouth disease makes the sheep unsuitable for consumption. This is a common disease which is akin to a skin rash – the biggest issue in Australia is that the people who are responsible for shearing the sheep don’t like handling the sheep as direct contact with the rash can result in a temporary rash in humans. Like determining the position of the moon – all you have to do is pick up the phone and call someone who is qualified – doesn’t cost anything.

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