Pakistan all set to be re-admitted to C'Wealth

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Islamabad, May 2 (UNI) Pakistan is all set to be readmitted to the Commonwealth this month.

A crucial meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) will take place in London at its headquarters on May 12, which will formally lift Pakistan's suspension from the 53- member organisation.

According to local media reports Pakistan's outgoing High Commissioner in London Dr Maleeha Lodhi has been in close contact with the Secretariat since the February 2008 elections, to ensure that the body moves expeditiously to restore Pakistan's membership.

She recently met the new Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamlesh Sharma, and has been in continuous contact subsequently.

She has also reported to the Foreign Office regarding the developments in the headquarters of the Commonwealth.

The recent visit to Pakistan of Malaysia's Foreign Minister Rais Yatim, was important in this regard as Malaysia is the acting chair of CMAG.

The Malaysian Minister was accompanied during his visit to Islamabad by a Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mathew Newhaus, who usually acts as the point person at the official level, for keeping track of political developments in Pakistan.

Once the report of this mission is submitted to the CMAG members, which is expected in next few days, all the formalities will be completed for the nine nation body meeting to consider lifting the suspension.

The nine countries representing CMAG are Malaysia (chairman), UK, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Namibia, Uganda, New Zealand, St Lucia and Papua New Guinea.

Pakistan has twice been suspended from the Commonwealth in the past nine years, in October 1999 following the coup and in November 2007, after the imposition of emergency.

Interestingly, this is the second time that Pakistan will be readmitted during Dr Lodhi's tenure as the High Commissioner to the UK. Pakistan was reinstated to the Commonwealth in May 2004 since it was suspended from the Council in October 1999.

Nevertheless Pakistan's reinstatement will be a welcome development for the new government. When the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently met Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi, he assured him of UK's efforts and desire to quickly readmit Pakistan to the Commonwealth.

UNI XC RJ HT1448

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