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Attacks threat to Pakistan's existence: Australia
04 Mar 2009 03:00:23 GMT
Source: Reuters
(For related story click on [ID:nSP392030])

CANBERRA, March 4 (Reuters) - A deadly attack on Sri Lankan cricketers proved Pakistan faced a militant threat to its very existence and not just along its troubled Afghanistan border, Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said on Wednesday.

The attack, in which eight people died, underscored the need for international help to defeat extremism in Pakistan, given the strategic importance of the country, Smith said.

"This was very much an existentialist threat to Pakistan itself," Smith told reporters, condemning the attacks on the Sri Lankan team convoy in Lahore.

"For a long time people have viewed Pakistan as simply part of the difficulty in the Afghanistan border area. We have to start viewing, as the international community, Pakistan in its own right," he said.

Smith spoke to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to offer Australian police to help with forensic investigation in the wake of the attacks. Australia and Pakistan have ties to one another in the 53-member Commonwealth group of former British-ruled countries. "We regard the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the border area, as the current hotbed of international terrorism, and I strongly believe it's in Australia's national interest to play its part in staring that down," he said. (Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Jerry Norton)
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Vasily Fedosenko crosses a river with his cameras in this undated photo. Fedosenko is a Reuters photographer based in the Belarussian capital, Minsk. Born in 1960 in the provincial town of ...


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