SYDNEY: Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Friday he hoped the national cricket team's tour of Pakistan would go ahead despite renewed security fears after a suicide attack killed 26 people there.
Smith condemned the violence which has followed the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, with two suicide blasts in three days, but said he did not want the March-April tour cancelled.
"Any time that something is either deferred or delayed or cancelled as a result of extremism, whether that's a cricket tour or whether that's an election, it's a victory for extremism," Smith told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
At least 22 police and four civilians were killed on Thursday when a suicide attacker detonated a device packed with ball-bearings outside the Lahore high court, raising fears that polls delayed to next month may be put back again.
"We are very concerned about the latest bombing," Smith said.
"We of course condemned the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, we of course condemn this bombing overnight."
Cricket Australia has said it will make a decision on whether the Tests, as well as five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match, go ahead after it completes a security assessment after Pakistan's elections.
But even if officials give the tour the green light, some Australian players are reportedly considering withdrawing from the team because of security fears.