KARACHI - Sindh High Court on Monday suspended culling of thousands of sheep imported from Australia with a direction to the concerned government authorities that all possible measures should be taken to control spread of any infection/disease suffered by the animals or possible outbreak of any new infection/disease. Ordering suspension of culling of subject sheep till September 27, the SHC division bench also directed them for adopting all-out measures for health of the sheep as well as those designated people handling the herd at the farm.The bench passed this order after partly hearing the arguments advanced by the government officers and independent veterinary, pathology and microbiology experts on petition filed by sheep importer Tariq Mehmood Butt.Earlier, on September 22, 2012, the SHC had directed a team of veterinary and microbiology experts to conduct provisional tests of the sheep to determine whether the animals were suffering from deadly anthrax disease or not. On Monday, Prof Muhammad Rafique Khanani, who headed the testing team, submitted two separate reports dated September 22 and 23, 2012 regarding his visit to the subject farm in pursuance of court’s order. Prof Khanani, the head of the Pathology Department of the Dow University of Health Sciences, submitted that 19 samples obtained from ten suspected sheep from the herd, as examining the whole herd was not possible. He said the culling of sheep was stopped as no sheep was found with the symptoms of anthrax despite examination like obtaining temperature of the animals. Secondly, all the samples found negative for anthrax after the lab tests.He informed that so far culled 8000 suspected sheep were culled by government authorities and burnt their carcasses without obtaining samples to determine whether the animals suffered from contagious anthrax disease or not, as the positive results only occur after infected animal’s death. Secretary Sindh Livestock & Fisheries Department Syed Abid Ali Shah alongwith Director Sindh Poultry Vaccination Center Dr Nazir Ahmed Kalhoro contended that the anthrax was highly contagious disease, however, the labs in the country lacked equipment to diagnose it.SHC division bench expressed its displeasure on conduct of Sindh Livestock and Fisheries Department officers for failing to place on record the documents showing as to why the Bahrain authorities refused the shipment of sheep that were accepted by Pakistan. The bench observed: “This is a very delicate matter. There are two important questions before us; as to under what circumstances and on what basis the subject consignment (of sheep) was refused by the Bahrian and under what terms and conditions the petitioner procured the subject consignment. Both the questions have not yet been answered.”The court took on record the reports submitted by the experts team and directed petitioner to provide copies of the same to federal and provincial law officers, who will file comments before next date of hearing.Adjourning hearing till September 27, 2012, the SHC bench ordered that culling as stopped on September 22, 2012 shall remain suspended till next date. Till then, all concerned shall take preventive measures to prevent outbreak of any new infection/disease and spread of any present disease/infection.It further directed that all the concerned shall take all possible measures for health and welfare of the subject sheep as well as welfare of various designated people/workers, working at the form. Such shall be done by all concerned and professionals present in the court may also provide their professional guidelines and assistance in that regard. On request of petitioner’s counsel Adnan Memon, the court directed Secretary and Director of Livestock and Fisheries department to have the present sheep counted carefully in a scientific manner in presence of petitioner or his representatives and the proper record shall be kept. The bench also directed the respondents to file their comments along with reports from the laboratories as ordered earlier.