Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth last night despite last-minute assurances from President Musharraf that he would lift the state of emergency soon.
The decision threatens to deprive Pakistan of hundreds of millions of pounds of foreign investment and Commonwealth development funding, as well as excluding it from the 53-member bloc’s decision-making councils until democracy is restored.
Foreign ministers meeting in Kampala agreed that General Musharraf had made some progress towards fulfilling the conditions demanded by the Commonwealth ten days ago. But they ruled that by suspending the Constitution, jailing lawyers and other political opponents and imposing emergency rule he had violated the democratic principles of the Commonwealth.
Expressing regret for Pakistan’s failure to comply with its ultimatum the Commonwealth said that it had suspended Pakistan “pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in that country”.
In case, like me, you were wondering:
What is the Commonwealth? “The Commonwealth of Nations, usually known as the Commonwealth and sometimes as the British Commonwealth, is currently a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, most of which are former British colonies (the exceptions being the United Kingdom itself and Mozambique).
“The Commonwealth comprises fifty-three, or almost a quarter, of the world’s countries and has a combined population of 1.9 billion people, almost a third of the world population and over twice as many as the whole of the Americas (North and South) put together. Of the 1.9 billion people, 1.4 billion live in the Indian subcontinent, and 93% live in Asia or Africa.”