By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune
After waging an almost month-long legal battle to prevent the culling of over 20,000 Australian sheep that they imported in early September, PK Meat and Food withdrew its petition to the Sindh High Court (SHC) against the federation of Pakistan and others unconditionally on Thursday.
SHC Justice Maqbool Baqar dismissed the petition of PK Meat and Food owner Tariq Mehmood Butt as withdrawn after repeatedly asking the petitioner’s lawyer Adnan Memon whether the request was made under duress.
Butt had purchased a consignment of 21,000 sheep earlier refused by Bahrain, as the animals suffered from ORF infection/scabby mouth disease, had moved the Sindh High Court to seek a stay order against culling of the animals by the Karachi Municipal Administration on the directives of the Sindh Livestock Department.
In his petition, Butt alleged that the Sindh Livestock Department authorities ordered culling of the ‘healthy’ animals on basis of reports issued by an incompetent government veterinary laboratory. Thus, more than 1600 animals were killed, resulting in significant losses to his company.
On Thursday, his lawyer Adnan Memon moved a miscellaneous application, requesting the court to allow him to withdraw his petition due to unavoidable circumstances.
He also requested the court to issue directives to the Sindh government authorities for providing security to the petitioner, Tariq Mehmood Butt, who was being harassed.
When Memon said his client did not share with him any threats that he might have received, Justice Baqar asked him to furnish a letter formally requesting the withdrawal of the petition after a two-hour break. Memon did not come up with any complaints regarding undue pressure or threats to the petitioner, which led to the dismissal of the petition two hours later.
Neither the owner nor his son Saqib Butt, who also serves as company’s executive director, were present at the hearing. Speaking to The Express Tribune outside the courtroom, Butt’s lawyer said he was not in a position to share the reasons behind the unilateral withdrawal of the petition.
The SHC also asked the inspector general of the Sindh police, provincial chief secretary and director general of the rangers to ensure protection of life and property of Butt and his family.
While there was no official word on the sheep’s fate, sources said no more culling was likely under the alleged out-of-court settlement reached between th`e Sindh government and PK Meat and Food.
The explicit order is noteworthy because of the fact that personnel of several law enforcement agencies had gathered near the PK Meat and Food slaughterhouse Wednesday night and attempted to demolish the facility on the pretext of building laws violations.
However, area residents, many of whom work at the facility as employees, resisted their bid and blocked the roads leading to the slaughterhouse in the Razzaqabad area.
A source considered close to the owner of the company told The Express Tribune that the unconditional withdrawal of the petition was a result of blackmail on the part of the Sindh government officials. (with additional input from Naeem Sahoutara in Karachi)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19, 2012.