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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 24-Nov-07
Pakistan is suspended from the British Commonwealth of Nations

Web Log - November, 2007

Pakistan is suspended from the British Commonwealth of Nations

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a British Empire.

Today, there's no longer a British Empire. In its place is the British Commonwealth of Nations, a group whose members are 53 nations consisting mostly of former British colonies.

Reference list of members: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands [suspended], Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru [special member], New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan [now suspended], Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, The Bahamas, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zambia.

Although the Commonwealth has officially existed since the mid 1800s, it became particularly important with the breakup of the British Empire after World War II. Still with the Queen as its head, the nations of the Commonwealth provide technical and administrative assistance to one another.

Interestingly, there is a competing organization: Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the alliance of French-speaking nations. Coincidentally, la Francophonie also has 53 member nations. Just as Britain and France are in competition over everything else, there's also a competition between the Commonwealth and la Francophonie.

In fact, there's currently a kerfuffle over the bid by Francophone nation Rwanda to join the Commonwealth. Rwanda's aspiration to join the Commonwealth is not intended to shut out Francophone practices and the French language, according to the Rwandan government. "We are not going to the Commonwealth to speak better English, but to get economical, social and community benefits."

And so, although the Commonwealth and la Francophonie organizations are almost totally unknown in the United States, membership in these organizations is a very big deal among many nations internationally.

Which is why Thursday's suspension of Pakistan from the Commonwealth is also a very big deal.

Every two years, there's a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), a get-together of the leaders of all the member nations. By coincidence, the CHOGM 2007 meeting is being held this very weekend in Kampala, Uganda.

On the eve of the meeting, on Thursday evening, the Commonwealth Ministers Action Group (CMAG) reached the decision to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth, because "it failed to fulfil. its obligations in accordance with Commonwealth principles." CMAG particularly objected to the fact that President Musharraf is both a civilian and military leader, both Head of State and Chief of Army Staff.

Saying that the decision was taken "taken in sorrow not in anger," CMAG demanded implementation of the following measures before Pakistan could be restored to full membership in the Commonwealth:

This is actually the second time that the Commonwealth has suspended Pakistan's membership. Pakistan was suspended in 1999, when General Pervez Musharraf seized power through a coup. The suspension was lifted in 2004.

An angry Pakistan government spokesman rejected CMAG’s decision and said it was "based on lack of realism and absence of understanding" of the situation in the country, and that they would not tolerate outside interference in Pakistan's affairs.

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement on Friday:

"The Government of Pakistan deeply regrets the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to suspend Pakistan from the Councils of the Commonwealth. The decision does not take into account the objective conditions prevailing in Pakistan .

The Government of Pakistan is committed to restore full democracy in the country. Emergency was a necessary measure to avert a serious internal crisis which is being addressed and the situation is now returning towards normalcy.

A neutral caretaker government is in place to hold free, fair and impartial elections. The Election Commission of Pakistan has already announced that elections to the National and Provincial Assemblies would be held on 8 th January, 2008 . Foreign election observers are welcome. Except for a few, all detainees held as a measure of precaution have been released. The print media was never under any restriction, while the large majority of television channels have resumed their transmission. Following the judgment of the Supreme Court on the validity of Presidential election, President Musharraf is expected to take the oath of the office as a civilian President.

The pace of progress towards normalcy will be determined by ground realities and legal requirements in Pakistan rather then unrealistic demands from outside.

In order to prevent any precipitate decision by CMAG, both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister had contacted the leaders of CMAG on telephone and through letters communicating the ground realities in Pakistan and underlining the significant political progress made since the imposition of Emergency. The CMAG countries were asked to take this progress into account in their deliberations and to postpone any consideration of suspension until a CMAG delegation could visit Pakistan to see for itself the existing circumstances and the steps taken by the Government to place Pakistan firmly on the path of democracy.

Therefore, the CMAG decision is unreasonable and unjustified. Pakistan will review its association and further cooperation with the organization."

As indicated by this statement, Musharraf appears to be moving in the direction of complying with Commonwealth demands. However, he has not yet named a date for removing the state of emergency.

On Friday, Pakistan's election commission confirmed that Musharraf won the October 6 presidential election, giving him another five years in office as Head of State.

This frees Musharraf, according to previous promises he's made. to resign as head of the military, and he's renewed his promise to do this within a week. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for January 8.

Official map of Pakistan, with the addition of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas),  highlighting Swat Valley <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source:</font>
Official map of Pakistan, with the addition of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), highlighting Swat Valley (Source:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Pakistan and India are headed for a new crisis war, re-fighting the genocide that followed the 1947 Partition of the subcontinent into (Muslim) Pakistan and (Hindu and Sikh) India.

Thus, there are many things happening that will complicate the path to the January 8 elections and the removal of the state of emergency:

Reading through the above list, it's clear how rapidly Pakistan's domestic situation is changing.

Thus, although the Commonwealth's suspension of Pakistan is humiliating, it's far down the list of major factors that will influence Musharraf's actions.

And there's little doubt that there will be further rapid and unexpected changes in the weeks to come. (24-Nov-07) Permanent Link
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