DATE=10/28/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PAKISTAN / COMMONWEALTH (L) NUMBER=2-255553 BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A delegation of Commonwealth ministers has started two days of talks with Pakistan's new military rulers on a time frame for the South Asian nation to return to democracy. As Correspondent Scott Anger reports from Islamabad, this is the first high-level visit by a foreign delegation since a bloodless military coup ousted the democratically elected government October 12th. TEXT: The eight-member Commonwealth action group -- which investigates abuses of democratic rule in its member states -- has met with Pakistan President Rafiq Tarar to discuss the current political situation in the country. The delegation is scheduled to meet with number of civil and political leaders including General Pervez Musharraf, who led the coup, which ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Commonwealth Spokesperson Kaye Whiteman says the delegation's mission is to probe the military's plans for the country. ///WHITEMAN ACTUALITY/// The mandate of the mission is to meet with the Pakistani regime and explore with the regime its plans for the early return of Pakistan to democracy. ///END ACTUALITY/// In addition to its planned meetings, the delegation is hoping to speak to Nawaz Sharif -- who has not been seen or heard from since the military takeover. The army says the former prime minister is under protective custody. Commonwealth leaders say the international financial institutions Pakistan relies on will be influenced by the delegation's findings. After ousting the democratically elected government, General Musharraf pledged to revive Pakistan's ailing economy, which is burdened by billions of dollars of debt. At stake for Pakistan is its membership in the 54- nation group of mostly former British colonies. The Commonwealth temporarily suspended Pakistan from membership in its councils after the military takeover. Mr. Whiteman says Pakistan can only be suspended from the Commonwealth -- not expelled -- if the military government decides not to return to democracy soon. He says only one other country has been suspended in the group's history. ///WHITEMAN ACTUALITY /// The only precedent is that of Nigeria, which was formally suspended in 1995 and returned (to membership) following the democratic elections this year. ///END ACTUALITY/// During a meeting next month in South Africa, the Commonwealth's heads of government will determine if any further action will be taken against Pakistan. (SIGNED) NEB/SA/wd 28-Oct-1999 03:38 AM EDT (28-Oct-1999 0738 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .