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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8060

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:02 PM) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence: the opposition associates itself with the Prime Minister’s condemnation of this cowardly attack. We join with the government in sending our condolences to the innocent victims, their families and friends. This is a tragic attack. It is a betrayal of everything that Islam stands for. It was particularly heinous because it coincided with the traditional Iftar dinner that was being held in the Marriott’s banquet hall at the time. This is the evening meal for breaking the daily fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan, itself a time for peace and reflection. Those terrorists debased the name of Islam. They debased the cause of peace.

This is a reminder of how hard the battle is for freedom and democracy around the world, how great the challenges are in a country like Pakistan and how courageous leaders are required to be in that country. The bombing came just after newly elected President Zardari delivered his first speech in parliament. As the Prime Minister observed, President Zardari’s wife, Benazir Bhutto, twice Prime Minister of Pakistan and a heroic figure in her own right, was killed in a bomb attack moments after decrying violence in her country at a rally in Pakistan in December last year. What courage is required of democratic leaders in those countries, particularly Pakistan, today! Benazir Bhutto, the daughter of a Prime Minister hanged by his political opponents, was herself blown up in a terrorist bomb attack! These are very tough times for the cause of democracy in Pakistan, and the Australian government should do everything it can to support those who are courageously standing up for freedom in that troubled country.