ARD not happy over C'wealth decision

Published February 13, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12: The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) has expressed its concern over the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) not to raise objections on President Gen Pervez Musharraf's holding of dual office till 2007.

According to media reports, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon had said on Friday that the CMAG was pleased with the democratic process in Pakistan and had decided not to raise objections to Gen Musharraf staying in uniform as president.

Talking to Dawn here on Saturday, PPP Senator Farhatullah Khan Babar and ARD secretary-general Iqbal Zafar Jhagra criticized the decision of the Commonwealth and termed it disappointing.

Mr Jhagra said the Commonwealth had no authority to allow Gen Musharraf to retain the army uniform for any specific time. He said the Commonwealth was following a double-standard and it should not support a military dictator.

He said the Commonwealth secretary general should know that either there could be democracy or not in a country and there was no place for a uniformed president in any kind of democracy.

Senator Babar said that democratic people in Pakistan had been disappointed with the decision of the Commonwealth. He said the CMAG was regarded as the torch-bearer of the organization's professed commitment to democracy and democratic principles.

The group's past record, he said, showed that it had the ability and will to take measures for the restoration of democracy in its member states. "It is frustrating for those struggling for democracy when the CMAG appears inconsistent with its democratic professions," he added.

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