CMAG members differ over suspension of Pakistan

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Kampala, Nov 24 (UNI) A day after Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth for refusing to lift emergency, difference among members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group(CMAG) came to the fore with Sri Lanka openly opposing the decision.

When the CMAG held its marathon session on Pakistan crisis on Thursday night, Malaysia and Sri Lanka were reluctant to endorse the suspension move. Another country St Lucia was absent at the meeting. The resolution for suspension of Islambabad was moved by Tanzania and Canada.

Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is currently attending the Commonwealth summit here, will clear his country's position regarding the suspension of Pakistan. The Sri Lankan government said its Foreign Minister, who attended the CMAG meeting was unaware of the government's official position on this issue.

Meanwhile Secretary General Don McKinnon today said, ''We still regard Islamabad as good Commonwealth citizens and believe we can work with them in the future.'' He alleged Pakistan was suspended ''out of sadness and not anger'', adding that Commonwealth was ready to help it get out of the present political turmoil.

The CMAG decision was also ratified by the leaders of the 53-member grouping at the executive session.

Pakistan has been barred from attending meetings of the Commonwealth. It will also not get any funding from the grouping, which has decided to send a ministerial team there in near future to make an on-the-spot study of the situation after the imposition of emergency on November 3 by President Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier a committee of foreign ministers had voted Thursday here to suspend Pakistan from councils of the Commonwealth pending restoration of democracy and rule of law in the country.


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