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Malaysia urges Pakistanis to stay calm

Malaysia condemns "extremism and violence" in Pakistan and urges "the perpetrators must be brought to justice."

world Updated: Dec 29, 2007 16:17 IST

Malaysia, currently heading the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), has condemned "extremism and violence" in Pakistan and said that "the perpetrators must be brought to justice."

At the same time, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the OIC chairman, has appealed to Pakistanis to stay calm in the wake of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination last on Thursday.

His government asked Malaysian nationals to avoid visiting Pakistan in view of protests and continuing violence. Malaysian students in Pakistan were asked to exercise care, The Sun newspaper reported.

"The resort to extremism and violence is unacceptable. It cannot be tolerated anywhere, any time. The perpetrators must be brought to justice," Badawi said in a statement.

"I hope the people of Pakistan will remain calm. I pray the situation there will soon stabilise," official news agency Bernama quoted his statement.

Badawi said in a statement issued on Saturday: "I am shocked to hear that Benazir Bhutto has been killed while campaigning in Pakistan. I condemn the act which also killed many innocent people. It is very sad that such a tragedy has taken place."

Benazir, 54, leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi.

Malaysia's long-time Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Hasmah Mohamed Ali also extended their condolences to the Bhutto on family and to the families of the bystanders killed, the New Straits Times said on Saturday.

"We pray for the continued peace and stability of Pakistan and that the family of Benazir Bhutto, and hope the people of Pakistan will be patient in facing these testing times," Mahathir Mohamad said in his message to the Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Tahir Mahmud Qazi.

The New Straits Times editorially said Pakistan must go through with the elections since, as Benazir often emphasised, absence of elections had blocked democracy.

"Those who mourn her passing have reason to fear the worst for the future of a nation with a bloody history and whose present has become more authoritarian, theocratic and anarchic. There is full-blown insurgency in the north, along with sectarian violence and suicide bombings are reported everyday."

But this is all the more reason not to turn Benazir's funeral into the last rites for Pakistan. However, it said: "Given that military rule has characterised much of the country's life since its painful birth 60 years ago, democracy will not be an election away. There is much to be done to develop a responsible civilian government. But free and fair poll in which all parties take part is the first step."