C'wealth suspends Pak for failing to restore democracy

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Kampala, Nov 23: The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has suspended Pakistan from the 53-member group for failing to restore democracy and the rule of law in the country.

After a marathon session here last night, during which some member countries, like Sri Lanka, pleaded for soft action against Pakistan, the CMAG said, ''while there has been some progress, the state of emergency was not lifted, the constitution and the independent judiciary were not restored and fundamental rights and rule of law remain curtailed.'' A statement issued after the CMAG meeting said, ''Pakistan continues to represent a serious violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political commitment for democracy and regretted that the government of Pakistan had failed to implement the necessary measures set out by it in November 12 statement.'' This is a big blow to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who had made personal calls to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other political leaders of the World, pleading them not to take any tough action against Pakistan.

In fact, country's caretaker Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro had written letters to all the heads of government of Commonwealth urging them to defer the action. He also listed steps taken by his government to restore democracy and hold general elections in the country.

The CMAG was critical of General Musharraf and stated that despite repeated promises to shed his uniform, he continued to hold offices of the ''Head of the State'' and the ''Chief of Army Staff'' even after expiry of the presidential term.


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