Commonwealth justifies Pak suspension

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Kampala, Nov 24: The Commonwealth has justified Pakistan"s suspension from the 53-member body saying that it would stand until democracy was restored in that country.

“We still believe that the democratic institution is best to deal with these issues, rather than any kind of unilateral type leadership situation," a newspaper quoted Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon, as saying. “This wasn"t a desire to heap retribution on Pakistan, this was a determination to live up to our principles," he added.

On Friday British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “Pakistan has got to end the state of emergency is suspended until free and fair elections take place and all conditions are met." Pakistan has termed the Commonwealth decision as "unreasonable and unjustified". The Pakistan Foreign Office statement expressed deep regret over the decision of the suspension of Pakistan"s membership.

The Commonwealth had failed to appreciate Pakistan's "serious internal crisis", the statement said. It added that it would review its ties with the group after the decision. Pakistan has also been barred from attending the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) on Saturday. The Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting in Kampala suspended Pakistan on Thursday, saying that the situation in

Pakistan "continued to represent a serious violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental values." "CMAG (Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group) has suspended Pakistan forthwith from the council pending the return of the rule of law and democracy," McKinnon had said.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3, placing the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry under house arrest, detaining lawyers, rights activists and opposition members and curbing press freedoms.

Pakistan will be banned from attending the organisation's meetings and taking part in the Commonwealth Games. It is the second time that Pakistan has been expelled from the Commonwealth. The country was suspended in 1999, after Musharraf seized power in a coup. It was reinstated in 2004.



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