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Commenwealth Suspends Pakistan

October 18, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Commonwealth foreign ministers today suspended Pakistan from the councils of the association of Britain and its former colonies following last week’s takeover by the military.

After an emergency meeting in London, eight Commonwealth foreign ministers said they had decided that ``the Pakistan military regime should forthwith be suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth.″

The decision was the first formal step toward suspending Pakistan, which under Commonwealth rules can only be done by a summit meeting due to be held in South Africa Nov. 12-15.

The decision today included barring Pakistan from the summit.

The foreign ministers called on the military regime in Islamabad to set ``without delay″ a time-frame for the restoration of a democratically elected government.

They ``unanimously condemned the unconstitutional overthrow of the democratically elected government of Pakistan as a serious violation of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political principles,″ the group said in a statement.

The action group said it would dispatch a mission consisting of ministers from Canada, Barbados, Ghana and Malaysia to meet with the Pakistani regime at the end of October.

The eight foreign ministers, who comprise a committee charged with monitoring a 1991 code of good governance to which Commonwealth countries are supposed to adhere, met under the chairmanship of Zimbabwe’s Stan Mudenge.

The other countries on the committee are Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, Malaysia, Botswana and Barbados.

``What we’re trying to do is restore to the people of Pakistan the right ... to choose who is going to rule them,″ British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said at a news conference.

Pakistan immediately denounced the suspension as unfair and accused the Commonwealth of bias in favor of India, Pakistan’s uneasy neighbor and fellow nuclear power.

``I think this is very unfair to the people of Pakistan,″ Gen. Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s secret service, said in a interview with Sky TV.

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