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FO: Pakistan regrets suspension of its Commonwealth membership
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16:31, November 23, 2007

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Pakistan on Friday regretted its suspension from the 53-nation Commonwealth, the Foreign Office of Pakistan said in a statement on Friday.

"The government of Pakistan deeply regrets the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to suspend Pakistan from the Councils of the Commonwealth," said the statement.

A Commonwealth ministerial committee Thursday decided to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth pending the return of the rule of law following the imposition of emergency rule earlier this month, a local newspaper The News reported on Friday.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), charged with reviewing Pakistan's membership, said that General Pervez Musharraf had not yet lifted the emergency rule and had failed to stand down as army chief.

"The decision does not take into account the objective conditions prevailing in Pakistan," the Foreign Office statement said.

"Emergency was a necessary measure to avert a serious internal crisis which is being addressed and the situation is now returning towards normalcy," it added.

A neutral caretaker government was in place to hold free, fair and impartial elections and the Election Commission of Pakistan had already announced that elections to the National and Provincial Assemblies would be held on Jan. 8, 2008, according to the statement

"Foreign election observers are welcome. Except for a few, all detainees held as a measure of precaution have been released. The print media was never under any restriction, while the large majority of television channels have resumed their transmission," the statement said.

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court on the validity of presidential election, President Musharraf is expected to take the oath of the office as a civilian President.

"In order to prevent any precipitate decision by CMAG, both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister had contacted the leaders of CMAG on telephone and through letters communicating the ground realities in Pakistan and underlining the significant political progress made since the imposition of Emergency," the statement said.

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 Pakistan firmly on the path of democracy.

"Therefore, the CMAG decision is unreasonable and unjustified. Pakistan will review its association and further cooperation with the organization," the statement said.


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