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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Commonwealth chief to press Pakistan
Armymen at Karachi airport
Commonwealth suspended Pakistan after military coup
By Susannah Price in Islamabad

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Don McKinnon, is arriving in Pakistan on Friday to discuss the government's proposals for elections.

Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth following the military coup in October 1999.

Mr McKinnon, will meet Pakistan's leader, General Pervez Musharraf, as well as representatives from political parties during the two-day visit.

Don McKinnon
Don McKinnon wants a timeframe for return of democracy
The Commonwealth has called for Pakistan's military government to hold elections, or at least outline a firm plan to return to democracy.

A spokeswoman said the secretary general would convey concerns over a timetable for the early restoration of democratic rule.

She also said that talks would be held in the context of establishing a timeframe in which Pakistan could be brought back into the Commonwealth.

Pakistan is presently under suspension from the Commonwealth, which means it cannot attend Commonwealth meetings or secure technical assistance.

During his visit Mr McKinnon is due to meet General Musharraf, the chief justice and foreign minister.

Meeting with Sharif

He will also hold discussions with members of political parties and has requested a meeting with the ousted prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Sharif is currently serving a life sentence after being found guilty on hijacking and terrorism charges.

The Pakistani government has said it will honour a ruling by the Supreme Court that democracy should be restored within three years.

The visit by the secretary general will be an opportunity for the military leadership to put its case to the Commonwealth.

It will then decide whether Pakistan has gone far enough down the road to democracy to be readmitted.

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See also:

14 Aug 00 | South Asia
Musharraf unveils local election plan
25 May 00 | South Asia
Musharraf pledges return to democracy
06 Aug 00 | South Asia
Musharraf urged to hold elections
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Pakistan sets election timetable
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Waiting for democracy
23 Mar 00 | South Asia
Profile: General Pervez Musharraf
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