The execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Saturday was both welcomed and condemned by the world's political and religious leaders. In Washington, US President George W. Bush said Saddam was executed "after receiving a fair trial - the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime." "Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror," Bush said in a statement. His sentiments were echoed by Australia, a US ally along with Britain in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam's regime. "His death marks an important step in consigning his tyrannical regime to the judgment of history and pursuing a process of reconciliation now and in the future," Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement. In India, the governing Congress Party described the execution as "unfortunate." "We hope this unfortunate event will not stand in the way of the process of restoring normalcy and reconciliation in Iraq," the party's general secretary, Janardhan Dwivedi, said in a statement. Former Indian foreign minister Natwar Singh, who was forced from office in 2005 over his alleged involvement in the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq, said the execution would lead to increased tension in the Middle East. "It will have a very adverse impact on the region for decades to come," he told CNN-IBN news channel. In Pakistan, an Islamic ally in the US-led war on terror, a leader of a coalition of six religious parties said Saddam had not received justice. "We have no sympathy with Saddam Hussein, but we will also say that he did not get justice," Liaquat Baluch, a leader of the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, also known as the United Action Forum, told The Associated Press by phone. "The execution of Saddam Hussein will further destabilize Iraq. There will be more sectarian violence in Iraq, and we believe that the execution of Saddam Hussein is part of the American plan to disintegrate Iraq," he added. In Sri Lanka, a Muslim government minister also condemned the execution for offending Muslims around the start of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic world's largest holiday, which marks the end of the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. "As a Muslim, I feel the execution could have been avoided," said Hussein Bhaila, who declined to comment on the judgment against the former dictator.