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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 17:16 GMT
Commonwealth raps Pakistan leader
General Musharraf
Pakistan's military leader says his nation wants him in uniform
Commonwealth ministers have sharply criticised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for failing to step down as army chief.

The ministerial action group insisted that the president, who took power in a 1999 coup, hang up his uniform by 2007.

But it stopped short of suspending Pakistan from the 53-nation club of Britain and its former territories.

Pakistan's membership was restored last year after the president said he would resign as army chief by late 2004.

"The group expressed its serious concern and regret that President Musharraf has not met his commitment to relinquish his role as chief of army staff by 31 December 2004," the statement read.

Failed promise

When the Commonwealth restored Pakistan's membership in 2004, it said it was satisfied with the democratic reforms initiated by the Musharraf government.

These reforms included a deal between Mr Musharraf and Pakistan's right-wing parties that the former would relinquish one of the two offices - that of president and chief of army staff - that he has been holding since shortly after the 1999 coup.

In December last year, General Musharraf reneged on his pledge, citing domestic compulsions.

His decision brought the Commonwealth under criticism from some of the African countries, which accused it of double standards on democracy.

Observers say Pakistan is likely to blame India for the development, as the ministerial action group currently includes the Indian foreign minister.

The group concludes its two-day meeting in London on Friday. This was the third meeting since it was set up.

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