August 6, 2020

By Haider Kaleem


Editor of Australian news outlet Klaxon, Mr. Anthony Klan, had published a report earlier in July claiming that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has signed a three-year secret deal with Pakistan Military’s Defense Science and Technology Organization (DESTO) to expand potential bio-warfare capabilities, including running several research projects related to the deadly agent anthrax.

The report has quoted multiple unnamed intelligence and security experts from the region.

However, Federal Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has termed the Klaxon report alleging covert operations in Pakistan as just another ‘conspiracy theory’.

Speaking to about the report, Chaudhry said that ever since the world has begun facing the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple conspiracy theories have surfaced and then died down themselves.

“For example, many in the beginning claimed that COVID-19 was created in a laboratory and now all neutral scientists have reached the conclusion that it was a natural disaster and that it was transmitted to the human body through a bat and it was a coincidence that the first case was reported in Wuhan,” added the minister.

He further stated that the Klaxon report is also a similar kind of conspiracy theory and it will also die down soon.

Claims by the Report

One of the unnamed security experts allegedly told Klaxon that “the secret project was detached from the supervision of civilian universities or government health departments in Pakistan and was structured so as to allow ‘unspecified future operations’.

The China-Pakistan biological project had already undertaken experiments on the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus (CCHFV), sources said. CCHFV is a rapid-onset fever virus that causes death in about 25 percent of cases and is similar to the Ebola virus. CCHFV is categorized as a “class-4” microorganism – the highest possible risk category.

Class-4 microorganisms, which also include the Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa viruses, are those which can kill humans, can easily travel from one person to another, and for which there are no known treatments or vaccines. Pakistan is allegedly carrying out tests on CCHFV in laboratories that are not equipped to handle Bio-Safety Level-4 diseases.
– an excerpt of the report

In a very unusual manner, the foreign office of Pakistan issued a press release in response to the report denying the claims made in the report and terming it “politically motivated and a fake story, composed of distortion of facts and fabrications,” on July 26.

The Spokesperson of the Foreign Office, Ayesha Farooqi, also said that “There was nothing secret about the Bio-Safety Level-3 (BSL-3) Laboratory of Pakistan referred to in the report. Pakistan has been sharing information about the facility with the States Parties to the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BTWC) in its submission of Confidence Building Measures. The facility is meant for diagnostic and protective system improvement by Research and Development (R&D) on emerging health threats, surveillance, and disease outbreak investigation.”

According to the statement, Pakistan strictly abides by its BTWC obligations and has been one of the most vocal supporters for a strong verification mechanism to ensure full compliance by the States Parties to the Convention.

But there has been no response or reaction is given by the Ministry of Defence yet, under which the institution allegedly working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on secret covert operations falls.

The Chinese embassy in Pakistan, while sharing the statement issued by Pakistan’s foreign office in a tweet, strongly opposed the story on the alleged covert operations in Pakistan.

“It is a totally irresponsible, viciously intentioned statement meant to smear Sino-Pak relations. As a responsible nation, China always lives up to its obligations to BWC,” says the tweet.