Anthrax case hushed up?

February 09, 2012


Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Police have been denied access to evidence to investigate arrival of a packet containing anthrax at Prime Minister Secretariat and directed to keep away from the case, Dawn has learnt.

But after handing over the evidence, including the powder, to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Prime Minister Secretariat directed the agency to hush up the case, sources said.

They said the sender of the powder was identified as an associate professor of Sindh University, Jamshoro, who was also the sister of a serving senior police officer of Sindh.

She allegedly sent anthrax to Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani on October 18 from the colony of the university. The registered (No 209) parcel also carried stamp of the associate professor.

The secretariat has already conducted an investigation into the issue during which it was revealed that the teacher had got the anthrax from a laboratory of the university and sent it to the prime minister without any lethal motive. “The associate professor has some psychological problems,” the sources added.

Though the PM Secretariat had approached the police and investigation agencies but now efforts are in progress to hush up the matter, the sources said.

They said the senior police officer was close to some leaders of the ruling political party, who convinced the secretariat not to take any legal action against the sender.

A senior FIA officer, when contacted, categorically denied that the agency was investigating the matter or had got the evidence. However, he added, the agency’s Sindh office might be working on it.

A senior officer of the capital police said they had been asked to keep away from the investigation. The police registered the case on the complaint of the PM Secretariat but it has been kept away from the legal process necessary to investigate the case, he added.

The secretariat had also sent the sample of the powder to the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in Lahore, which confirmed the powder as anthrax.

The prime minister’s spokesman Akram Shaheedi could not be contacted for comments as his cellphone was switched off.