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Last Updated: Friday, 23 November 2007, 07:11 GMT
Commonwealth statement on Pakistan
Below is the statement on Pakistan approved by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in Uganda on 22 November 2007.

CMAG recalled the CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] communique of November 2005, in particular the statement by heads of government that "the holding by the same person of the offices of head of state and chief of army staff is incompatible with the basic principles of democracy and the spirit of the Harare Commonwealth principles... until the two offices are separated, the process of democratisation in Pakistan will not be irreversible... [They] urged Pakistan to resolve this issue as early as possible, and not beyond the end of the current presidential term in 2007 at the latest".

CMAG also recalled its statement of 12 November 2007, following its extraordinary meeting on Pakistan in which it had "urged the government of Pakistan to fulfil its obligations in accordance with Commonwealth principles through the implementation of the following measures:

  • Immediate repeal of the emergency provisions and full restoration of the constitution and of the independence of the judiciary. This should also include full restoration of fundamental rights and the rule of law that have been curbed under the proclamation of emergency.

  • President Musharraf to step down as chief of army staff as promised

  • immediate release of political party leaders and activists, human rights activists, lawyers and journalists detained under the proclamation of emergency

  • immediate removal of all curbs on private media broadcasts and restrictions on the press

  • move rapidly towards the creation of conditions for the holding of free and fair elections in accordance with the constitution

CMAG agreed that at its next meeting on 22 November, if after review of progress, Pakistan has failed to implement these necessary measures, it will suspend Pakistan from the councils of the Commonwealth".

The group expressed disappointment that while there had been some progress, these conditions remained substantially unfulfilled - the state of emergency had not been lifted, the constitution and independence of the judiciary had not been restored, and fundamental rights and rule of law remain curtailed.

Although there have been indications that President Musharraf may remove his uniform in the coming days, the group noted that despite repeated promises made to remove his uniform, President Musharraf continues to hold the offices of both head of state and chief of army staff, even after the expiry of the presidential term on 15 November 2007. CMAG acknowledged President Musharraf's intention to remove his uniform and looked forward to him doing so as soon as possible.

CMAG welcomed the release of detainees in recent days but, at the same time, expressed concern at the journalists, lawyers and human rights activists who continued to be in detention and at the recent further arrest of many journalists who were protesting against continuing government curbs on private media broadcasts.

CMAG noted the announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan that parliamentary elections will be held on 8 January 2008. While it welcomed this important step it nevertheless concluded that Pakistan would need to move rapidly towards the creation of conditions for the holding of free and fair elections.

The group took note of the letter received by the secretary general from the caretaker prime minister of Pakistan, and seriously considered the points raised in it. CMAG warmly welcomed the commitment to continued engagement with the Commonwealth expressed in that letter. It also noted Pakistan's own decision not to attend the Kampala CHOGM. It appreciated the invitation for a CMAG delegation to visit Pakistan.

CMAG agreed that, notwithstanding some progress by the Pakistan government since its last meeting, the situation in Pakistan continued to represent a serious violation of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values. CMAG regretted that the government of Pakistan had failed to implement the necessary measures set out in the CMAG statement of 12 November 2007. Accordingly, consistent with that decision, CMAG suspended Pakistan forthwith from the Councils of the Commonwealth, pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in that country.

The group recognised the mutual interest of the Commonwealth and Pakistan in remaining engaged in this critical period. CMAG therefore requested the secretary general to remain engaged and to deploy his good offices as appropriate and in consultation with the chairperson of CMAG. It also affirmed its strong commitment to remain engaged with Pakistan, as a valued member of the Commonwealth, to work to assist the return to democracy in that country.

CMAG renewed its call to the government of Pakistan to implement the necessary measures listed in its statement of 12 November as soon as possible. It agreed to review progress following the conduct of scheduled parliamentary elections in January 2008, including possibly through a visit of a CMAG ministerial delegation to Pakistan.

The group reiterated its support for and solidarity with the people of Pakistan who have a right to enjoy the provisions and protections of its constitution, with fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly, and the rule of law.

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