Preliminary report suggests no role of Pakistan customs in allegedly infected Australian sheep clearance

KARACHI: Pakistan customs has initiated inquiry against its officials for issuing clearance to alleged infected imported sheep from Australia. The preliminary reports suggested that customs officials had cleared the sheep as per prevailing laws for imported goods, said an official on Wednesday.
Pakistan customs constituted a two-member committee to look into the affair, which resulted in a bad name for the countries and authorities including ports and customs.
According to shipping and import/export document made available to Customnews.pk, M/s. Wellard of Australia had exported the consignment of 21,000 heads of Australian slaughter sheep (live) to PK Livestock and Meat Company of Pakistan, at $1.15 million and that was departed from Australia on August 4, 2012 through MV Ocean Drover.
The Ministry of National Food and Security and Research Animal Quarantine Department, Karachi on September 04, 2012 issued a provisional approval and certified the importation of Australian livestock.
According to the customs authorities, the livestock was cleared by the department on the basis of provided documents. “Since the quarantine department issued the fitness certificate therefore customs had no objection to clear the goods on deposit of duty and taxes,” said a customs official.
The documents also revealed that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australian Quarantine and Inspection services also certified the consignment before department from Australia.
The documents revealed that the Australian department had certified on September 01, 2012 that:
• Australia is officially free of Foot and Mouth disease, Rinderpest, Peste De Petitis Ruminants, Rift Valley Fever, Sheep Scab, Goal Pox, Sheep Pox, Maedi-visna, Nairobi sheep disease, classical scrapie, Rabies, Brucella melitensis and Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia.
• The property of origin of the sheep is not under restriction by the Commonwealth or State governments due to any officially controlled infections or contagious disease of sheep.
• The animals were examined by an AQIS accredited veterinarian within 72 hours before export and showed no clinical signs of contagious or infectious disease.
• The animals were kept under observation in AQIS approved premises between the dates of examinations and embarkation from 27th of July to August 4, 2012 at La Bergerie Pre Export Quarantine and Assembly Depot.
• The animals were authorized to depart from La Bergerie Pre Export Quarantine and Assembly Depot, Australia to Pakistan from the date of embarkation.
The customs authorities said that certification from both the livestock health authorities are sufficient for the clearance which clearly stated the sent and received goods were free of infection.
The authorities said that it is clear that the sheep were meant to travel to Pakistan contrary to media reports that an Australian ship unloaded the livestock without knowledge of local authorities.
Interestingly, the import document also attached a certificate issued by Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, certifying the livestock of Australian origin.

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