Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is with a sense of deep sorrow that I rise to talk about the horrific bombing that took place in Lahore, Pakistan, on 27 March over the Easter weekend.
The perpetrators claim to have targeted Christians celebrating with their families at a local park.
The bomb, however, did not discriminate between young and old, men and women, Christians and non-Christians. It simply ended precious and innocent lives to needless carnage.
Many Pakistanis living in my electorate have expressed their profound regret at the state of affairs in their country of origin.
I have been touched by those who identify themselves as belonging to what are classified as religious minorities in Pakistan.
They feel a sense of helplessness at the sheer unwillingness of the officials to alleviate the situation.
Many tell me that it is the constitution of Pakistan that has wreaked havoc against religious minorities and refer to blasphemy laws that are in place and grant protection to perpetrators who commit crimes in the name of religion.
Others feel a sense of guilt as a consequence of fleeing their country for a better future for themselves in Australia, leaving behind family members in their homeland who feel vulnerable, threatened, defenceless and trapped each and every day. Their family members go about their daily lives but do not know if they will see their loved ones when they return home.
Many despair at the lack of hope in the political and judicial system. Some tell me that if the situation in Pakistan improved, they would go home.
On this day, the Pakistani Resolution Day, Pakistanis remember the ideals of the founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who envisioned a secular Pakistan and spoke of an inclusive and impartial government, religious freedom, rule of law and equality for all — a vision that is far from what Pakistan has become today, but we live in hope.