Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, October 18, 1999 Published at 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK


Analysis: Commonwealth's symbolic snub

The Commonwealth's decision is largely symbolic

By South Asia analyst Jannat Jalil

The Commonwealth decision is unlikely to make much of an impact on the Pakistani military government or the Pakistani people - its significance is merely a symbolic one.

Pakistan in crisis
The Commonwealth - a loose association of former British colonies, dependencies and other territories - has suspended other members in the past without much impact.

And Pakistan has been outside the organisation before.

In 1972, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto left in protest at the Commonwealth's decision to admit Bangladesh.

Economic clout

Pakistan, which has $32bn worth of foreign debts and is facing the prospect of bankruptcy, will be far more interested in the response of those countries which can help it out of its economic difficulties - in particular, the United States, which will influence whether or not the IMF resumes vital loans, which had been suspended even before last week's military coup.

[ image: No timeframe yet for restoration of civilian rule]
No timeframe yet for restoration of civilian rule
In contrast to the Commonwealth response, the United States seems to have adopted a more positive attitude.

While expressing disappointment that no timeframe has been set for a return to democracy in Pakistan, it seems to be indicating that it is prepared to wait and see if the country's new military ruler, General Musharraf, can deliver on his promises to restore Pakistan's battered economy and institutions.

US more cautious

In an interview with the BBC, the American ambassador, William Milam, painted a positive picture of the general, saying he had not understated the problems that Pakistan faces.

The ambassador dismissed reports that General Musharraf was an extremist, describing him instead as a moderate and temperate man.

He said the United States had also been heartened by the General's call for dialogue with India.

Pakistan has already been heavily sanctioned after its nuclear tests last year.

The international community will be wary of taking further punitive measures which could destabilise the world's newest nuclear power and which could aid the rise of Islamic extremists there.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

18 Oct 99 | South Asia
India cautious over Musharraf speech

17 Oct 99 | Monitoring
Excerpts from General Musharraf's address

17 Oct 99 | Broadband
Musharraf promises 'true democracy'

15 Oct 99 | UK Politics
UK halts aid to Pakistan

14 Oct 99 | South Asia
Pakistan's coup: The 17-hour victory

Internet Links

BBC Urdu service

Pakistan Government

The Commonwealth

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named