Authorities pledge continued commitment to sheep in Pakistan

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Australian High Commission in Pakistan have pledged to continue their involvement in resolving the large consignment of sheep being held in Karachi.

News of the inhumane treatment of the sheep in Pakistan first broke last week, evoking memories of the infamous Four Corners story this time last year, which led to Prime Minister Julia Gillard banning live export to Indonesia.

In that case, sheep were shown in video footage to be distressed and brutally murdered.

The latest Pakistan incident led to the culling of Australian livestock in Pakistan being formally suspended on 22 September after the importer successfully applied for a court order to prevent the cull from continuing.

Video has emerged of thousands of Australian sheep being brutally culled in Pakistan, with the animals being clubbed, stabbed and buried alive.

The 21,000 sheep arrived in Karachi earlier this month after being given a clean bill of health by both Pakistan and Australian government officials.

However, local authorities ordered the culling, stating the animals had salmonella and anthrax.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said that while his department would conduct a full investigation in to the incident, he insisted the live export program works well and would continue.

The DAFF said it is aware of, and is looking into, the adverse reports regarding culling practices in Pakistan, and will continue to be actively involved in the case.

On 28 September the High Court of Sindh in Pakistan adjourned delaying its decision on an application by the Pakistan importer, PK Livestock, to overturn a cull order from the Sindh Livestock Department. 

The intention of the delay is to allow further testing and diagnostic analysis to be conducted by an independent also ordered PK Livestock to continue having full and unhindered access to the sheep to ensure they are adequate cared for.

This encompasses ensuring the supply of feed, water and veterinary medicines, which will be done in collaboration with Australian exporter, Wellard Rural Exports.

Wellard Rural Exports reports that the sheep, exported under the new Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), are in good condition, have access to feed and fresh water and display no signs of disease.

Australian livestock exporters responsible for ensuring they meet the requirements of ESCAS, which stipulates exporters must ensure that livestock will be handled in accordance with internationally accepted World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards up to and including the point of slaughter.

Previously, Wellard Rural Exports self-reported a loss of control over their supply chain in Pakistan when local Sindh authorities entered the facility and commenced culling of sheep under an order issued by the Sindh High Court.

Both the importer and Wellard representatives were ordered by local authorities to leave the facility during that time.

DAFF says it will conduct a full investigation of the ESCAS non-compliance and continue to provide further information as it becomes available.

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