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Pakistan Back In Commonwealth

Pakistan Back in Commonwealth

London (Report by Shahid Qureshi, UK Correspondent Tribune International)
Sun, 23 May

Commonwealth foreign ministers have lifted the suspension of Pakistan from the organisation here in London today. Following a meeting in London of the nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon said that the four-and-a-half-year-old suspension was being lifted.

However, he said that CMAG would continue to keep Pakistan on its agenda and to monitor developments in the country.

He warned that they expected Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf to honour an assurance that he would step down as head of the army by the end of the year.

Mr McKinnon said the decision to lift the suspension followed the progress made in restoring democracy to Pakistan since General Musharraf seized power in a military coup four and a half years ago.

But CMAG expected an agreement reached between General Musharraf and the opposition parties that he would stand down as chief of the army to be "implemented fully in letter and spirit".

He added: "CMAG agreed to remain appraised of the situation by retaining Pakistan on the agenda."

While he acknowledged that all the members of the group were aware of the importance of Pakistan in the war against international terrorism, he insisted that had not influenced their decision.

Britain has strongly supported the lifting of the suspension of Pakistan. But some African countries were reported to be unhappy, believing that Pakistan was receiving more favourable treatment than Zimbabwe, which has now left the organisation in protest at its continued suspension.

However, the Nigerian foreign minister, Olu Adeniji, who chaired the meeting, insisted that the three African states in the group had all backed the decision. The other members of the group represented at the meeting were the Bahamas, Canada, India, Lesotho, Malta, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.


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