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Volume 3, No. 7 - December 2003

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Make Terrorist States Pay a Heavy Price
Editorial Team

The decision to continue Pakistan’s suspension from the Commonwealth was overshadowed by the Zimbabwe crisis in Nigeria. Announcing Islamabad’s non-qualification to participate in decision-making the Commonwealth, the foreign ministers action group stressed that not enough reforms toward democracy had taken place under General Muharraf’s reign to merit readmission of his recalcitrant country. This confirmed yet again that Pakistan remains a pariah state in international diplomatic fora, however much wheeling and dealing with the United States secures World Bank loans and pats from Geoge W Bush. If America were in the Commonwealth, there is little doubt that Musharraf would have released another Al Qaeda trading card in exchange for readmission leverage.

The Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration of 1991 sates democratic freedoms, fundamental human rights, equality of women etc as cornerstones which no member state can derogate. Unfortunately, at the time of this Declaration, export of international terrorism was not on the radar screen of the world and it was not included as another ground for exclusion from the Commonwealth. Pakistan deserves to be suspended from all peace-loving international bodies like the Commonwealth purely on the weight of evidence regarding its involvement in habouring, training, financing and infiltrating mujahideen of various nationalities including its own citizens.

As a potent threat to world peace and a destabilising factor in South Asia, Pakistan must be made to pay a heavy price for its irresponsible actions. The Commonwealth should remember that it was Benazir Bhutto’s democratically elected Pakistani government that hatched the Taliban poison. Her father, Zulfiqar Bhutto, was another elected thug who abetted the genocide of Bangladeshis in 1971. Democracy alone is not a cure-all, as has been proved in the case of Pakistan. Democracy’s populist overtones can sometimes be worse than unrepresentative military rule. If the Commonwealth desires positive change in Pakistan, it should make the price of terrorism intolerable rather than harping on and on about restoration of democracy. An unambiguous declaration to uphold Islamabad’s suspension until it is determined that it has stopped exporting terrorism is sorely wanting.

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