The High Court of Pakistan's Sindh province has ordered that at least 20 samples taken from the sheep be analysed by the London laboratory to determine whether they contain diseases that threaten humans.
Five Australian staff from the exporter Wellard have regained access to the 11,000 surviving animals and are ensuring they are fed and watered.
The shipment of 21,000 was originally destined for Bahrain but was rejected on the grounds of disease and sent on to Pakistan. The Pakistani disease control authorities forcibly removed staff from the exporter and killed, or buried alive, up to 10,000 of the sheep in a mass killing videoed and posted on a Karachi news website.
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said yesterday he was confident the tests would show the sheep were fine, telling the ABC: ''If they were suffering any particular nasty disease like anthrax, you would already see mortalities. Clearly, there are some lessons to be learnt … I am pretty confident that they're not going to be sending sheep to Pakistan for some time now.''
Both the exporter and the Australian Livestock Exporters Council said they had no further plans to export to Pakistan. Labor's Kelvin Thomson said he wanted the minister to ban further exports to both Pakistan and Bahrain for the time being and set up an independent office of animal welfare.
The Sindh High Court is due to decide the fate of the sheep on October 17, but may meet earlier once it has the results of the London tests.