15. Arrangements for Cross Boundary Movement of Biological Material
This section discusses the present arrangements and restrictions on the movement of biological resources into and out of Pakistan.
In order to check the movement of biological resources across international boundaries. Pakistan has 2 laws, the Pakistan Animal Quarantine Act 1985 and the Pakistan Plant Quarantine Act 1976. These acts regulate the import and export of plants and animals at the main entry and exit points of the country. This arrangement is discussed in the following sections.
15.1 Quarantine Laws and Status of Implementation
The Quarantine Department, attached with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, has been charged with the pest prevention mission to protect agriculture, the environment and citizens from the damaging effects of plant and animal pests. The Government of Pakistan has legislation regarding animal quarantine to prevent the illegal introduction of animals and to limit the spread of pests and diseases. The Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture regulates the import and export of plants and plant material. All plant material intended for export has to be certified by the Plant Protection Department.
The check on movement of biological material is made through two separate departments, which do not have a mechanism for co-ordination. The quarantine laws have a limited scope. Examples of this are that the checklist concerns diseased organisms only and there is no check on the introduction of invasive species. There is also a need to revise the laws encompassing the linkages between animal, plant and biosafety issues.
15.2 Activities of the Quarantine Department
The department is responsible for the regulation of the import, export and quarantine of animals and animal products in order to prevent the introduction or spread of diseases.
The department provides Central Certification Service to the importers and exporters of animals and animal products. The department promotes a uniform standard through examinations and tests that meet international trade requirements, and is responsible for the prevention of the unauthorised import and export of animals and animal products.
Under the Constitution, the federal government is responsible for the statutory authorities and related regulations governing the inspection and transportation of animals and animal products for import and export. Furthermore, it is responsible for the issuance of Health Certificates and the formulation of regulations designed to prevent the introduction and dissemination of diseases of foreign origin.
As a member of the WTO, and as an international obligation, it is obligatory to maintain a quarantine service to safeguard human health, livestock, and the industry of Pakistan and foreign countries from communicable diseases.
Every “point of entry” and “point of exit” has to be guarded to prevent the introduction or spread of diseases. Therefore, the department has office-cum-microbiology laboratories located in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad and Multan as per clause J of Section 2 of the Pakistan Animal Quarantine (Import and Export of Animals and Animal Products) Act, 1985.
There is one officer at each station, performing three types of duties:
Duties as a “Head Office”
Research Officer of the laboratory
Powers, duties and functions of Quarantine Officer which are laid down in Sec – 6 of the Pakistan Animal Quarantine Act, 1985
The department handles all kinds of animals which include birds, cold-blooded creatures, creatures by means of which any disease may be carried or transmitted, crustaceans, fish, quadripeds which are not mammals, and mammals (except man and animal products).38
On an average, the department handles more than 12,000 cases annually of import and export of animals, birds and animal products. The department earns Rs .2,000 million per annum from Health Certificate fees. The export value of animals, birds and animal products total Rs. 4744 million subsequent to clinical and laboratory examinations carried out by the Animal Quarantine Department.
15.3 Activities of the Plant Protection Department
The "Destructive Insects and Pests Act, 1914" was enacted by the former British Indian government for preventing the introduction and spread of exotic pests and diseases which could be destructive to field crops, horticulture, floriculture and forests. The government of Pakistan in 1951 adapted this Act with slight modification and finally the " Pakistan Plant Quarantine Act, 1976" was enacted. This enactment was done keeping in view Pakistan's obligations FAO "Plant Protection Convention 1951". The Pakistan Plant Quarantine Rules, 1967 were also made under the Act of 1967. The Plant Protection Department under the federal ministry of food agriculture and co-operatives looks after this subject. No import or export of plant material is allowed without a legal certificate of its being disease free. The ports of import and export of biological material have been identified as Karachi Harbour, Karachi airport, Lahore airport, Lahore railway station, Wagah border, Jamrud land border (Peshawar), Peshawar airport, Chaman land border, Quetta airport or any other authorised
Land, air or sea routes declared by the Director Plant Protection Department. A plant quarantine officer is posted at these points of entry and the officers of Pakistan Customs are empowered to check plant material upon import or export. No person is allowed to import or export plant material except with the permission of the director. In addition, the Plant quarantine officer is empowered to inspect and destroy or release after treatment plant material if it is suspected of contamination. Import restrictions have been imposed by the government for Potato, Rubber, sugarcane, tobacco, citrus, coffee, banana, groundnut, maize, tea, allium spp. and cotton.