Pak minister skips pre-CHOGM meet

On 26/11 anniversary, Qureshi excuses himself from deliberations

Pak minister skips pre-CHOGM meet

Prime Minister Manmonah Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheihk Hasina attend the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Friday. AFP

Qureshi had arrived here on time for the Thursday’s ministerial meeting but surprisingly he is learnt to have “sent a word” that he would not be able to attend the meet.
External affairs minister S M Krishna was among the foreign ministers who participated in the 53-member CHOGM ministerial meeting.

Terrorism is one of the Commonwealth group’s focus areas and last September, when the Commonwealth ministers had met on the margins of the UN General Assembly session in New York, it was resolved that the member states should take concrete steps to implement the organisation’s action plan to combat terrorism.

At the CHOGM seven years ago in Australia, the 53-member body had “agreed to expel any member state that aided, funded or harboured terrorists”.

Since the involvement of Pakistani nationals in the Mumbai terror attacks is established beyond reasonable doubt, the country is a fit case for expulsion. It wasn’t clear, however, if Qureshi’s absence from the meeting that took place on the day of the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks was aimed at avoiding a possible embarrassment.

Foreign nationals from several countries were victims of the last year’s Mumbai terror acts. It may be noted, Pakistan had been suspended from the body ten years ago, as a punishment for General Pervez Musharraf’s military coup against the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif.

Holding that Islamabad had not yet taken effective measures to bring to book its nationals involved in the Mumbai attacks, India has so far ruled out any meetings with Pakistani leaders on the sidelines of the CHOGM here. The Pakistani delegation is headed by Prime Minister Syed Yousef Raza Gilani.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh has met French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the sidelines. Sarkozy is here as a special guest since the CHOGM leaders are deliberating on the positions to be taken at the upcoming Climate Change meet in Copenhagen. Besides, Singh is also expected to meet the prime ministers of the UK, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

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