Despite being forbidden, pork, dog and donkey meat are openly sold in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi said at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Monday.

Afridi, who assumed office on the same day, said the selling of forbidden meats in markets needs to be stopped, The Express Tribune reported. Some senators tried to blame the trend on the increasing Chinese population in Pakistan.

The minister made the comments during a meeting that was scheduled to discuss and approve the Islamabad Pure Food Authority Bill, which will give the government the power to establish a food authority to inspect food items.

Senator Azam Khan Swati of the ruling party Tehreek-e-Insaf cited the absence of controls on food in Islamabad when he declared a need for a supervising entity to ensure food safety and hygiene.

It is common for uncovered meat to be moved openly in trucks, said Senator Rehman Malik, who declared such practices a threat to public health.

Senator Momin Khan Afridi demanded that penalties for food adulteration be equal to those imposed on sellers of illegal drugs.

Asian countries such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam are known to consume large quantities of dog meat. Around 5 million dogs are eaten in Vietnam every year, and a number of animal rights groups have been actively protesting the trade there.