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Pakistan to remain suspended from Commonwealth

By H S Rao in London
May 20, 2003 22:13 IST
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Pakistan will remain suspended from the Commonwealth as its Parliament has remained deadlocked over the status of the Legal Framework Orders issued by President Pervez Musharraf, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group decided on Tuesday.

While agreeing to review Pakistan's suspension at its next meeting in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, the Group hoped that dialogue between the government and the opposition parties on outstanding issues, including the LFO, would be concluded successfully, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Don McKinnon, said.

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who was also present at the briefing, said, "I agree with the decision and I have nothing more to add to the decision of the Group."

The concluding statement read out by McKinnon said, "The Group welcomed the progress made by Pakistan in the establishment of democratic institutions, including the election of the National Assembly, the Senate and Provincial Assemblies, and the formation of democratic governments at the national and provincial levels. It also welcomed the positive measures taken for women's representation in Parliament, the representation of minorities and the determination to enhance public accountability and end corruption."

He said the Commonwealth wanted to see Parliament in Pakistan with full sovereign authority and a 'normal government' in office instead of Musharraf exercising the authority.

Asked whether the decision on Pakistan was unanimous, McKinnon said, "Wide-ranging views were expressed on the question of revoking Pakistan's suspension, but at the end the ministers agreed to review Pakistan's suspension at its next meeting."

Pakistan was suspended from the Council of Commonwealth following the military coup led by Pervez Musharraf against the elected government of Nawaz Sharief in October 1999.

The meeting also reviewed developments in Fiji Islands, Zimbabwe and Solomon Islands, besides Pakistan.

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H S Rao in London
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