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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
International silence on Pakistan
President Pervez Musharraf (L) with President Bush
The US needs the Pakistani leader's co-operation

There has been little international reaction so far to the constitutional changes announced by Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.

This will make little difference to Pakistan's position in the world.

The isolation of General Musharraf's military regime was greatly reduced by the attacks of 11 September.

The United States needed his co-operation against the Taleban and al-Qaeda and lifted its own sanctions against Pakistan.

Western criticism became muted.

Wait and see

The new changes to the constitution further entrench the president's power and formalise an influential role for the military, even after the election of a new parliament in October.

But British officials said they did not want to condemn General Musharraf before the elections took place - that would be the test of his promises and whether he was genuinely committed to democracy.

The officials said other constitutional clauses preventing two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, from returning to power did not change the present situation.

Pakistan remains suspended by the Commonwealth - an action it took when General Musharraf overthrew an elected government nearly three years ago.

Embargo

At their meeting in March, Commonwealth leaders welcomed his commitment to hold elections, but decided Pakistan should stay suspended pending the restoration of a democratic government.

Whether the elections provide that will depend partly on the verdict of Commonwealth observers.

A Commonwealth team has just visited Pakistan to prepare the ground for the monitoring exercise.

But the changes to the constitution make clear that President Musharraf means to have the final say on how Pakistan is run.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

21 Aug 02 | South Asia
20 Aug 02 | South Asia
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21 Aug 02 | South Asia
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