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NZ to attend CMAG meeting on Pakistan

New Zealand's former Attorney General and current High Commissioner to London Paul East will represent Foreign Minister Don McKinnon at a special meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London on Monday.

Mr McKinnon, the Vice Chair of CMAG, said the meeting will address the situation in Pakistan following the ousting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by Pakistani military leaders.

"New Zealand condemns the military takeover in Pakistan," he said.

"CMAG will be giving a very clear message to the military to return power to the proper constitutional authorities immediately."

Mr McKinnon said the Commonwealth is not prepared to tolerate the removal of democratically elected Governments by military coups.

This was made clear by Commonwealth Leaders at the Harare Summit in 1991 and was given added force by their adoption of the Millbrook action programme at the 1995 Summit held in New Zealand. CMAG is the mechanism through which the Commonwealth seeks to implement the Harare principles.

"I hope that Pakistan's military leaders will heed the views that are being conveyed to them by other Commonwealth members," Mr McKinnon said.

"The Commonwealth will be more than happy to work with Islamabad in helping restore a properly constituted civilian Government in Pakistan. This would be a far more sensible way for the military to go in achieving their stated aims of ridding government of corruption and inefficiency than resorting to martial rule with all the consequences this could entail for Pakistan's future position within the Commonwealth and internationally."

Mr McKinnon said that it was clear that if Pakistan did not intend to return to democracy in the very near future, their status within the Commonwealth would be an issue for Leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting being held in Durban in November.

Members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group are Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Ghana, Malaysia, Canada, the UK, Botswana and Barbados.

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