12 November 2007
(CMAG) met at Marlborough House, London, on 12 November 2007 in an extraordinary session to consider the situation in the Republic of Pakistan
1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) met at Marlborough House, London, on 12 November 2007 in an extraordinary session to consider the situation in the Republic of Pakistan. The meeting was chaired by Hon Michael Frendo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta. Other members of the Group who attended the meeting were Hon Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia (Vice Chairman), Hon Mohlabi Kenneth Tsekoa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lesotho, Hon Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Lord ( Mark) Malloch-Brown, UK Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, HE Jean Kekedo, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to the UK, HE Jim Wright, High Commissioner of Canada to the UK, HE Mwanaidi Maajar, High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania to UK, and Ms Maura Felix, Acting-High Commissioner of St Lucia to the UK.
2. CMAG condemned the abrogation of the Constitution of Pakistan through a Provisional Constitutional Order and the Proclamation of Emergency, which it noted had been undertaken outside the provisions of the Constitution.
3. The Group expressed its grave concern at the dismissal of the Chief Justice and several other judges and their placement under house arrest, which it deemed to constitute a serious breach of the Harare Commonwealth principle of independence of the judiciary and the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles. It took the view that other actions taken against lawyers, opposition politicians and civil society leaders, and the suspension of all private media broadcasts and restrictions on the press also constitute violations against Commonwealth fundamental values of freedom of expression and human rights. It noted with alarm the recent amendment to the Army Act, which retrospectively gives military courts the right to try civilians on charges of ‘anti-national’ activities and believed this to be a further derogation of constitutionality and rule of law.
4. CMAG welcomed the announcement by General Musharraf that parliamentary elections will be held before 9 January 2008 but stressed that such elections would not be credible unless the state of emergency is removed and constitutional rights of the people, political parties and independence of the judiciary are restored.
5. CMAG also noted with concern that the date on which President Musharraf had promised to step down as Chief of Army Staff, viz 15 November 2007, had again been put into doubt by his recent statements, despite the repeated assurances previously given on this issue.
6. The Group agreed that the aforementioned developments seriously violated the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.
7. The Group urged the Government of Pakistan to fulfil its obligations in accordance with Commonwealth principles through the implementation of the following measures:
8. 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.
9. CMAG urged the Government of Pakistan to work with the Commonwealth and other international partners, as appropriate, in ensuring that a credible electoral environment and process is rapidly put in place for the holding of parliamentary elections.
10. In acknowledging the dangers of instability in the country, CMAG called on all in Pakistan to refrain from violence, respect human rights and help create a conducive environment in which credible elections could take place.
11. The Group expressed 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.
12. CMAG requested the Secretary-General to remain engaged and to deploy his good offices as appropriate and in consultation with the Chairperson of CMAG.
13. CMAG will meet again on the eve-of CHOGM in Kampala on 22 November, 2007.