Commonwealth to debate Pakistan suspension after emergency rule

LONDON, Nov 11, 2007 (AFP) – Foreign ministers will debate whether Pakistan should be suspended from the Commonwealth over President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule at an extraordinary meeting Monday. Nations including Britain and Canada have called for tough action ahead of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group gathering and Secretary-General Don McKinnon described the state of emergency as a “step in the wrong direction”.

Foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, Lesotho, Malaysia, Malta, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania will meet in London to discuss whether the state of emergency breaches Commonwealth principles.

Musharraf imposed emergency rule on November 3, suspending the constitution, sacking the chief justice and imposing restrictions on the media days before the Supreme Court was to rule on the validity of his October election victory.

Pakistan’s Attorney General Malik Mohammad Qayyum said Saturday that the state of emergency would be lifted in a month, while former premier Benazir Bhutto joined a protest after being freed from house arrest, imposed Friday.

Before these moves, powerful Commonwealth nations were talking tough about potential action ag