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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8059

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:00 PM) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence: the Australian government condemns the cowardly suicide bomb attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan on 20 September. This brutal attack on civilians has killed at least 60 people and injured scores of others. Our condolences and thoughts are extended to the victims of the attack and their families. This attack on innocent people is a reminder of the terrorist threat to democracy and security in Pakistan. It is a threat against which the Australian government will stand united with the democratically elected government of Pakistan.

Pakistan has proved to be resilient in the face of a series of terrorist outrages. These are attacks aimed at the democratic institutions of Pakistan and the people of that country. Pakistan’s new President, Asif Zardari, has underlined that he and his administration will confront this terrorist challenge. Mr Zardari, of course, suffered his own tragic loss when his wife, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated by extremists just a few months ago. Terrorist attacks have continued since, but in the face of this violence the people of Pakistan remain overwhelmingly committed to democracy and moderation. Australia, as a friend of Pakistan, will assist that country in every way possible as it deals with the threats that it faces. The government of Pakistan is looking at ways in which we can expand our efforts to assist Pakistan in its fight. We are looking at practical ways to build on our existing law enforcement assistance and other assistance to Pakistan.

Offering this assistance is good for Pakistan but also good for Australia. Pakistan is an important state for regional and global security. What happens in Pakistan, including in its border areas with Afghanistan, has an impact on its regional neighbours and the world and is therefore of direct relevance to Australia’s continued presence in Afghanistan. For Australia, therefore, a stable, secure and democratic Pakistan is important to the success of our mission in Afghanistan. We are thankful that there are no reports at this time of any Australians being affected by the bombing and we will commit ourselves further in the fight against terrorism both at home and abroad.