Commonwealth will be loser if it suspends Pakistan : Kasuri

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New Delhi, Nov 13 (UNI) Pakistan today dared the Commonwealth to suspend it from the 52-nation grouping even as the world body issued a ten-day ultimatum to President Pervez Musharraf to repeal emergency and restore constitution and independence of judiciary by November 22 (the eve of CHOGM).

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said he was hopeful that the Commonwealth would not suspend Pakistan.

''...but if it does, the Commonwealth will be the loser,'' he said in an interview with CNBC TV18 programme telecast tonight.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) at a meeting last night asked Pakistan to end emergency and restore Constitution and the independence of the judiciary.

It also asked President Musharraf to step down as Army Chief and release political and human rights detainees.

Mr Kasuri expressed confidence that proper campaigning would be undertaken by political parties in Pakistan and the emergency would not affect the proposed elections.

Talking about India-Pakistan relations, Mr Kasuri sought to allay the apprehensions of National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan that the present political crisis in Pakistan would fuel infiltration of terrorists into India.

He, however, admitted that the judicial crisis in Pakistan and some assembly elections in India had affected peace talks between the two countries, but said back channel progress had continued despite Pakistan's domestic political problems.

''There was this judicial crisis in Pakistan that began in March and then there were two-three elections in India, including the one in UP, that took the attention of the governments away,'' Mr Kasuri said.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister claimed that both countries could have sorted out the Siachen and Sir Creek problems, describing these as a lost opportunity.

''Siachen and Sir Creek issues should have been resolved by now,'' he added.

UNI

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