Pakistan

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th March 1972.

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Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Bradford West 12:00 am, 27th March 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on his official visit to Pakistan.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Pakistan about Pakistan's membership of the Commonwealth.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

During my recent visit to Pakistan I had valuable discussions with President Bhutto. My aim was to cover the whole range of problems in the sub-continent and to see what we could usefully do to help. I also discussed bilateral questions between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The details of our discussions must remain confidential, but on the particular question of Pakistan's decision to leave the Commonwealth President Bhutto confirmed to me that he had taken this decision deliberately in Pakistan's interests as he saw them. He said that he hoped to maintain and improve his bilateral relations with the United Kingdom and that is certainly our wish too.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Bradford West

In the range of discussions on all outstanding questions on the sub-continent, did the President of Pakistan seek the help of the British Government in bringing pressure to bear on the Indian Government to secure more equitable treatment of Pakistan prisoners of war, which might lead to an earlier assumption of peace negotiations between India and Pakistan?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

Very properly, President Bhutto did not seek to bring any pressure to bear on the British Government, but he did emphasise how important to him and Pakistan was the return of the prisoners in the context of a complete agreement between Pakistan and India.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

President Bhutto has announced his intention to withdraw Pakistan from the Commonwealth. Can my right hon. Friend say whether a presidential announcement is enough to withdraw a nation from the Commonwealth, or is some formal action necessary and, if so, has it been taken?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I should like to confirm this to my hon. Friend later, but I think that the only formal action which would be necessary would be a notification to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , East Surrey

Did my right hon. Friend discuss with the President the position of future immigrants to this country from Pakistan?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

No. The President was very anxious to make certain that Pakistan citizens already here should not be penalised. If Pakistan becomes a foreign country, future immigrants will be treated as aliens.