Britain backs Pakistan’s efforts for re-entry into Commonwealth

April 21st, 2008 - 10:34 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
DPA
Islamabad, April 21 (DPA) British Foreign Secretary David Miliband Monday applauded the democratic transition in Pakistan and said his country backed Islamabad’s bid for re-entry into the Commonwealth. Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth group of former British colonies in late November following the imposition of emergency rule by President Pervez Musharraf.

Emergency rule was revoked mainly on international pressure, and Musharraf, who took over in a bloodless military coup in 1999, gave up his military post.

General elections were held Feb18 in which Musharraf’s political backers were thrashed by the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s party and its allies.

Miliband, who concluded his two-day visit to the country with a press conference in Islamabad, said the restoration of democracy had won Pakistan respect in the world community.

“The democratic transition that Pakistan’s people have undergone over the last few months has been for many parts of the world an inspiration,” David Miliband

He said the conditions under which the ban was imposed have been removed.

“Britain wants to be leading the voice for Pakistan’s re-entry to the Commonwealth family where it belongs,” he said.

Miliband reiterated support for the newly-elected government’s plan of holding talks with the Islamic militants in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

“Reconciliation with those who are willing to be reconciled is the right thing,” said Miliband, adding that a comprehensive approach was required to deal with the menace of terrorism in tribal areas.

Pakistan’s tribal region is believed to harbour safe havens for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, who fled to the area after the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to oust the Taliban regime.

They launch cross-border attacks on NATO-led international forces deployed in Afghanistan.

They are supported and facilitated by local Islamic militants, who have also intensified their attacks on more than 90,000 Pakistani security troops deployed along the border over the past 13 months.

The move has led to a brief lull in fighting with the militants who welcomed the announcement.

Miliband’s statement came a day after he first supported peace negotiations with militants after meeting Amir Haider Hoti, the newly elected top official for the North-West Frontier Province that borders Afghanistan.

On Monday, he also held security talks with Musharraf and newly- elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Islamabad.
DPA

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