What you need to know about Hina Rabbani Khar

Published: July 18, 2011
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Khar's appointment comes at a very important juncture of the country’s history, when its foreign policy appears shattered after being pulled in different directions.

After keeping the slot of Foreign Minister vacant for more than five months, the government has finally woken up and decided to appoint Hina Rabbani Khar as the next Foreign Minister of Pakistan. It will not be an alien territory for Ms Khar, as she has been performing her duties as the Junior State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs till now. But, there will be an additional set of responsibilities that will come with the promotion.

Even though she is familiar with the portfolio, it will be very difficult to speculate, at this stage, how much she would be able to live up to. The primary reason for this is that we have not seen her much or heard much from her in these last few months, on our foreign policy – no wonder our foreign policy has been giving us an impression of a rudderless ship since late.

At the age of 34, Hina Rabbani Khar will be the youngest and first female Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Following are the things you would want to know about Ms Khar:

  • She hails from a political feudal family. She is the daughter of politician Malik Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar and niece of former Governor Punjab Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar.
  • Ms Khar is a LUMS graduate and did her MSc from University of Massachusetts in 2001.
  • She is a passionate trekker and has gone to Nanga Parbat and K2.
  • Before coming into politics, she was actively pursuing a career in Hotel Management and is also one of the owners of Polo Lounge, a famous restaurant in Lahore.
  • Ms Khar was State Minister for Economic Affairs and Statistics in Musharraf’s government and regarded Pervez Musharraf highly for his reforms.
  • She left PML-Q to join PPP during the 2008 elections.
  • In 2009, she became the first woman to present the budget in the National Assembly as Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs.
  • After Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s departure, in February 2011, she was appointed as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Many sources argue that her initial appointment as a State Minister was made to groom her for the full-fledged job of the next Foreign Minister.
  • She believes in an evolutionary change in the foreign policy of Pakistan rather than a revolutionary one. In an interview to Wall Street Journal, while answering a question about civilians taking back the control of the army dominated Foreign Policy, she said, “there’s a real change in Pakistan for who’s responsible for what. But it’ll happen in an evolutionary way, not a revolutionary way.”
  • Before joining the foreign ministry, during her previous role, she had major interactions with various donor agencies. She has been a vocal supporter of all foreign aid channeling through government institutions.
  • She is eloquent, measures her words while she speaks, and takes her political career with serious passion.

Having said all that, it is a fact that Khar may not have the desired experience for this very important assignment, which will put her at times, locked with personalities such as Hillary Clinton, William Hague, Sergey Lavrov and SM Krishna. Her appointment comes at a very important juncture of the country’s history, when its foreign policy appears shattered after being pulled in different directions. The first challenge of her statesmanship will come after just a few days when she meets her Indian counterpart, 79-year-old SM Krishna, in New Delhi.

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Ali Baraan

Ali Baraan

A student of Foreign Policy based in Lahore, He writes on human rights and politics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.