Washington, DC -- U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has issued the following statement on the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto:

"Today, the world has witnessed a tragedy in Pakistan. This was a cowardly attack by extremist elements. Madam Bhutto was a stalwart of moderation, a force for democratic values, and a personal friend. I express my sincere condolences to her family, to her many friends, and to the people of Pakistan for the loss of one of their daughters.

"This atrocious attack should compel the United States to renew our commitment to the people of Pakistan and to the voices of moderation. Although one of those voices has been prematurely silenced today, it is up to all of us to make sure that those who have perpetrated this hideous act are brought to justice, and that those who continue to spew the venomous, hate-filled rhetoric of extremism are vanquished."

Lantos, who is also the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has known Bhutto for many years. They met again in his office a few weeks ago during her last visit to Washington before her return to Pakistan.