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Commonwealth in the news

Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth last night despite last-minute assurances from President Musharraf that he would lift the state of emergency soon. Expressing regret for Pakistan’s failure to comply with its ultimatum the Commonwealth said that it had suspended Pakistan ‘pending the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in that country’. . .The decision threatens to deprive Pakistan of hundreds of millions of pounds of foreign investment and Commonwealth development funding. . .”

How large a threat violent Islamists pose to Pakistan, and exactly what can be done to restore the rule of law and democracy, is not clear.

The 53 member Commonwealth of Nations - formerly the British Commonwealth - is a loose confederation of nations that were formerly members of the British Empire. (The one exception is Mozambique, a former Portuguese possession.) They have 2 billion citizens.

Every two years, Commonwealth leaders meet to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree collective policies and initiatives. HM Queen Elizabeth II, the Head of the Commonwealth, has just arrived in Uganda to open the biennial conference.

She visited Mildmay hospital, one of the several projects funded by the British Government,. The hospital offers pediatric care and support to children living with HIV/AIDS.