Pakistan criticises suspension from Commonwealth

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Islamabad, Nov 23 (UNI) Criticising the Commonwealth for suspending its membership from the group, Pakistan today said it will review the country's association and further cooperation with the organisation.

''The decision by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) is unreasonable and unjustified,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said here.

He said Pakistan government deeply regrets the decision, which does not take into account the objective conditions prevailing in the country.

''The Government of Pakistan is committed to restore full democracy in the country,'' he said, adding that emergency was a necessary measure to avert a serious internal crisis.

He further said a neutral caretaker government is in place to hold free, fair and impartial elections.

''The Election Commission of Pakistan has already announced that elections to the National and Provincial Assemblies would be held on January 8, 2008,'' he recalled against the backdrop of the 53-member organisation's suspension of Pakistan from its folds yesterday.

Mr Sadiq also said that except for a few, all detainees held as a measure of precaution have been released.

He claimed that the print media was never under any restriction, while the large majority of television channels have resumed their transmission.

''The pace of progress towards normalcy will be determined by ground realities and legal requirements in Pakistan rather than unrealistic demands from outside,'' he made it clear.

In order to prevent any precipitate decision by CMAG, both Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro and Foreign Minister Inam-ul-Haq had contacted the leaders of CMAG on telephone and through letters communicated the ground realities in Pakistan and underlined the significant political progress made since the imposition of emergency.

The CMAG countries were asked to take this progress into account in their deliberations and to postpone any consideration of suspension until a CMAG delegation could visit Pakistan to see for itself the existing circumstances and the steps taken by the Government to place the country firmly on the path of democracy.

UNI

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