The federal government says it may expand its efforts to help Pakistan fight terrorism in the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack which killed 60 people.
The attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad also injured around 200 people, just hours after Pakistan’s newly elected president Asif Ali Zardari delivered his first speech to parliament, a short distance from the hotel.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the attack is a reminder that terrorists pose a grave threat to the democracy and security of Pakistan.
“This threat cannot be allowed to succeed,” Smith said in a statement.
“President Zardari has declared his determination to continue the fight against terrorism.
“It is now more important than ever that other countries step forward to work with Pakistan to combat the terrorists resolutely and effectively.”
Smith said the federal government is looking at how it could expand its efforts to help Pakistan’s new government fight terrorism, including the “possible provision of law enforcement assistance, counterinsurgency training and technical assistance”.
No Australians are believed to have been killed or injured in the blast, but the Australian High Commission is working with local authorities to determine if any were caught up in the attack.
“We are unaware of any Australians being involved,” Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard told Sky News.
“Obviously, these are always difficult circumstances.
“We’re working there on the ground to get the best possible information.”
Cricket Australia (CA), which has been criticised by Pakistan for backing out of a tour to that country, expressed sadness at the attack.
“Our reaction is that it’s terribly sad and tragic news,” CA public affairs manager Peter Young told AAP.
“Australian cricket has got a lot of friends in Pakistan and I think everyone at the national level is really sorry to hear this sort of continuing news coming out of the place.
“Everyone is praying quite fervently that the domestic situation there settles down so people can live their life in peace and hopefully we can start playing cricket there again.”
Australia’s scheduled Test tour of Pakistan earlier this year was abandoned because of security concerns and is expected to be held in 2009.
Young says precautions will be taken.
“We do have cricket scheduled in Pakistan in 2009 and as always we’ll do a pre-tour assessment before we travel there,” he said.