23 September 2006
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) held its twenty-seventh meeting in New York on 23 September 2006. The meeting elected Hon Dr. Michael Frendo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta as Chairman and Hon Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia as Vice Chairman. Other members of the Group who attended the meeting were Hon Monyane Moleleki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lesotho, Hon Sir Moi Avei, KBE, MP, Minister for Petroleum and Energy of Papua New Guinea, Senator Hon Petrus Compton, Minister of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of St Lucia, Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK, Hon Cyril Chami, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of the United Republic of Tanzania, HE H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka and Mr Michael Small, Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Issues, Department of Foreign Affairs of Canada.
CMAG reviewed developments in Pakistan since its last meeting and received an update from the Secretary-General on the political situation. The Group appreciated Pakistan's continued steps towards democratic reform, as well as its positive engagement with the Commonwealth in this regard.
The Group emphasised the importance of the National Assembly and Senate and encouraged the greater use of both, including parliamentary committees and other democratic institutions. CMAG also noted that there are areas where improvements still need to be made to ensure the widening of democratic space, greater consultations and fairness overall.
CMAG welcomed the growing freedom of media in Pakistan.
The Group noted the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to safeguard the rights of women and minorities and supported ongoing efforts for reform. It also welcomed the resolve of the government to establish a national human rights commission and encouraged the government to continue to work with civil society.
CMAG recalled the CHOGM Communiqué of November 2005, and reaffirmed in particular “that the holding by the same person of the offices of Head of State and Chief of Army Staff is incompatible with the basic principles of democracy and the spirit of the Harare Commonwealth principles…until the two offices are separated, the process of democratisation in Pakistan will not be irreversible.” The Group further noted that Commonwealth Heads of Government “urged Pakistan to resolve this issue as early as possible, and not beyond the end of the current Presidential term in 2007 at the latest.” CMAG called for the separation of the two offices in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution and within that timeframe.
The Group requested the Secretary-General to continue to maintain high level contact with the government, political parties and civil society in Pakistan and utilise his good offices and technical assistance, as appropriate, to help strengthen the country’s democratic framework. It also agreed that member states should engage with Pakistan to promote Commonwealth objectives.
CMAG welcomed the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to hold free and fair elections, in accordance with the Constitution, when the current Parliament’s term expires, and the invitation to the Commonwealth to observe these elections.
The Group decided to keep Pakistan on its Agenda.
CMAG agreed that unless circumstances required an earlier meeting, it would next meet in New York in the wings of the UN General Assembly in September 2007.
New York, USA.
23 September 2006