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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 20:31 GMT
Bishop speaks of Bhutto 'courage'
The Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali
The Bishop of Rochester said Ms Bhutto had been a "personal friend"
The Bishop of Rochester has spoken of the "commitment and courage" of Benazir Bhutto following the assassination of the former Pakistani prime minister.

The Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali was part of an audience in Kent which welcomed a visit from Ms Bhutto at the end of August.

"Benazir Bhutto has been a personal friend for many years," the bishop said in a statement reacting to her death.

"Her murder is a body blow for freedom and democracy in Pakistan," he added.

Ms Bhutto was invited to Rochester in August by a former adviser, Rehman Chisti, now a Medway councillor and the Tories' parliamentary candidate for Gillingham and Rainham.

At the event held by the local Conservative constituency association, she addressed members of all parts of the Medway community while also speaking of her "great admiration" for Mr Nazir-Ali.

Ms Bhutto had previously announced her intention to return to Pakistan in October following eight years of self-imposed exile.

My prayers are for her husband, children and family
Michael Nazir-Ali
She spoke of free and democratic societies being a "very precious gift".

One of her comments was: "I believe that democracy is the best way to undermine terrorism."

Analysts have said a group of Islamist militants were the most likely perpetrators of the suicide attack in which she died in Pakistan on Thursday.

Ms Bhutto was leaving a rally in Rawalpindi ahead of elections due in the country on 8 January.

Mr Nazir-Ali commented: "I do hope the elections can still be held and that the cause of democracy can survive this catastrophe.

"My prayers are for her husband, children and family - that they will be comforted at this time of grief.

"She will always be remembered for her commitment to Pakistan and her courage in public life."


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