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June 27, 2001

A Novel About Bioterrorism

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;285(24):3091-3092. doi:10.1001/jama.285.24.3091

To the Editor: The Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) strongly protests the publication of Dr Panwalker's review of Germs of War by Ketan Desai.1 Panwalker quotes portions of the book that denigrate Pakistan and its people. The passages chosen present slavery as a norm in Pakistan and talk of a group of slaves among whom the protagonist, a future Pakistani physician, learns to inflict "unspeakable acts of cruelty." Subsequently, this capability catches the eye of "the sinister head of Pakistan's intelligence service" culminating in the protagonist's admission to a medical school in Lahore. Finally, Pakistan (a very poor country) is found to be funding US medical research at the Mayo Clinic! Slavery is obviously not practiced in Pakistan; admissions to medical college are not based on recommendations of the Pakistan's secret service, and research on biological weapons is not being carried on in any US university at the behest of Pakistani intelligence agencies.

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