Pakistani police can't explain failures in anthrax probe

Pakistani police recently announced that they are currently conducting an investigation into a package containing anthrax sent to the office of the prime minister in the capital Islamabad.

In what appears to be the first reported case of anthrax sent to a Pakistani government official, the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has offered no explanation as to why it has taken so long to register the case with police. The incident reportedly took place in October, but the official investigation only began this week, according to AFP.

Although the PCSIR confirmed the substance in the package sent to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was anthrax, it remains unclear how virulent the toxin was or from where it originated.

"After the laboratory test confirmed that the parcel contained anthrax we registered a case against unknown people," police officer Hakim Khan said, AFP reports.

The police report said that an envelope addressed to Gilani and received by his office on October 18 contained a smaller envelope that contained an unidentified powdery substance. Police refused release any accompanying laboratory results.

Khan said that the package was originally mailed from the southern province of Sindh. Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and the transshipment point for many of the supplies sent to U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, is located in Sindh.

"We have not yet received any instructions from the government to investigate this matter," local police official Bashir Ahmed said, AFP reports. "We have asked the local post office protectively to check their records to know about the sender. We can't say how long it will take to complete the investigation. We expect a quick result if the sender's identity is not fake."