ISLAMABAD: The Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) on Wednesday organised a day long National Seminar on Biological Weapons Convention: Implementation Challenges. Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, the CISS executive director, in his welcome address, stressed on the devastating effects of biological weapons, and said that in the past, the use of such weapons has resulted in chilling effects on human population. This led the international community to reach consensus to ban this entire class of weapons of mass destruction, he said. Ambassador Inam-ul-Haq, in his address as the chief guest, pointed out that biological weapons do not receive the required press coverage and public attention. Nuclear safety and security measures have been discussed at the summit level due to their destructive nature, this has not happened in the case of biological weapons, which necessitates the incorporation of Biological Weapons Treaty and the implementation challenges as the agenda of national seminars. In this context, he commended the efforts of CISS in promoting awareness regarding challenges with respect to chemical and biological threats to security. Zamir Akram made the keynote address in which he focused on elements of the convention and implementation challenges. Adding other implementation challenges, he stated that due to rapid developments in science and technology, relevant countries need to meet more than once in five years to discuss measures to confront the “dual use” nature of biological weapons. He also raised the issue of implementing Article X of the BWC that emphasizes on international cooperation and assistance because of the tension that exists in promotion of biological technology transfers in the presence of strategic trade controls to address proliferation risks. He highlighted Pakistan’s stance in support of implementation of all articles of the BWC in a balanced, nondiscriminatory and comprehensive manner. Kamran Akhtar, the director general of disarmament at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the most credible and sustainable method of strengthening the Convention was through multilateral negotiations towards a legally binding protocol, including verification provisions, dealing with all the Articles of the Convention. Zawar H. Abidi, a member of group of exports UNSC 1540 committee, spoke on the UNSC Resolution 1540 and Pakistan. He stated that in line with increasing threat of terrorism, the risk posed by various micro-organisms as biological weapons need regular evaluation. He also agreed with earlier speakers regarding implementation challenges and also referred to the easy access to biological weapon development and production by terrorists due to the recent advancements in science and biotechnology. Dr Zafar Ali, DG Export Control Division, MOFA, highlighted that Pakistan has adopted stringent bio-safety and bio-security measures for safety and security of biological agents, facilities, technologies and equipment. He emphasized the point that although the Strategic Export Control Division was functioning and the Strategic Export Control Act was effective since 2004, there is a need to enhance coordination at national and international level for effective bio-ethics, bio-safety and bio-security standards and adoption of Internal Compliance Program. Awareness raising and capacity building is important in implementing peaceful application of biology for socio-economic development. Dr Javed Khurshid, a distinguished visiting fellow at CISS, spoke on Emerging Infectious Diseases-Bioterrorism: A Threat to National Security. He emphasized on the implementation of Bio-technology Weapons Convention through strengthening emergency management systems against bio-terror viruses and diseases such as HIV. Brig Muhammad Afzal Khan spoke on Chem-Bio Threat and Response, arguing that through control measures and control regimes, ‘our threat perception would be increasingly crystallized’. He also pointed out to the challenges of handling the bio- and chem-threats, having diverse and unpredictable manifestations. In this context, he argued that it was required of all stakeholders to develop a well thought out and integrated approach in dealing with the complex nature of threats. Technical teams need to be equipped with techniques and training of dealing with the severity of the threats of bio and chemical weapons in the emergency time for providing a suitable and timely response. Published in Daily Times, September 20th 2018.