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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1493


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (09:57): Many of my constituents and I am sure many other constituents around Australia will be very alarmed at a report I read in the Financial Times on my way back to Australia. As we speak, in the streets of Pakistan Lashkar-e-Taiba is openly parading itself. The founder of this group, Hafiz Saeed, is parading in the streets of every city in Pakistan. We have to remember that this group was responsible for the murder of 166 people, including two Australians, in the 2008 massacre in Mumbai. Saeed was previously confined to his base in the eastern Punjab but now via an organisation called the Pakistan Defence Council he is out addressing crowds of 10,000.

This group was officially banned by Pakistan in 2002 under pressure from countries like the United States and Australia. But, according to the Financial Times, the group's emergence suggest powerbrokers within the Pakistani security forces are reactivating contacts to protect their interests in a time of political turbulence. There is no question that powerful elements in the security establishment view the Pakistan Defence Council and Mr Hafiz Saeed's activities, rallies and rhetoric as a way to shape the political terrain in their favour. Some in the military view the halting efforts of the President of Pakistan, Mr Zardari, to forge a rapprochement with India with suspicion, and an end to the cold war between these neighbours is something that the Pakistani military would have difficulty with as it would make it difficult to justify having a half-a-million man army and a vast business empire.

Mr Saeed was subjected to a UN travel ban and asset freeze after the Mumbai attacks, which were officially condemned by the Pakistani government. I am sorry to say it is another example of Pakistani government duplicity, something that Western countries of the industrialised world, Russia and China will be keenly aware of after the publication in December of Atlantic Monthly. It seems that the Pakistani military are now driving around—and I keep warning the parliament of this—their nuclear weapons in delivery trucks to avoid US satellite surveillance. Any terrorist from Waziristan can drive down to Rawalpindi, Dhaka or any of these cities. These trucks are not protected sufficiently by the Pakistani military. They are an insane attempt by a government to avoid surveillance by the United States, who they fear will seize these weapons. But at the same time they are making them available to terrorists. This is a shocking situation. Pakistan should be held to account. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for members' constituency statements has expired and the debate is concluded.