Ministry matters

Hina Rabbani Khar is back at Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry. What does this mean for India?

Hina Rabbani Khar is back at the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. She took office as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the second time after being sworn into the new Shehbaz Sharif cabinet on Tuesday.

In 2011, Khar served as Pakistan’s foreign minister, becoming the youngest and first woman to hold the position.

During his brief tenure as foreign minister, Khar was instrumental in crafting what is described as an innovative foreign policy focused on improving relations with Pakistan’s neighbors Afghanistan and the United States. ‘India. She also championed reducing Pakistan’s dependence on the United States.

Khar had traveled to India in 2011 when a media frenzy erupted over her lavish style and expensive accessories.

“Khar’s glamorous turn sparked a media swoon and became the buzz of the subcontinent’s gossip class,” The Guardian reported in 2011.

After being sworn in as minister on Tuesday, Khar chaired her first high-level meeting where she stressed the need for “sincere efforts” to address challenges on the diplomatic front, Express Tribune reported.

Who is Hina Rabbani Khar?

Khar was born into a powerful family of oligarchs and politicians in Muzaffargarh district in southern Punjab. His father Ghulam Rabbani Khar, also a politician, had been a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan. Khar graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences before going to the United States for her master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts.

She was inducted into politics at the age of 25 after returning from the United States. According to The Guardian, Hina’s father addressed rallies and happy voters in his first election, when she mostly stayed at home. Even his photo did not appear on the posters. However, since then she has shown a deft political touch.

She was one of the few ministers to rise from being a member of the cabinet under the military government of General Pervez Musharraf to occupying a key ministerial position in the civilian government under President Asif Ali Zardari.

Role of Minister of Foreign Affairs

As Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan seeks to hold a snap general election, the Sharif government may not have much time to formulate its foreign policy as the country goes through already in serious economic trouble, The Wire reported.

During her previous visit, Khar had resumed talks between India and Pakistan which had been suspended after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. During her visit, she had discussed issues related to trade and Kashmir. At the time, Khar also held talks with the Hurriyat Conference, a Kashmir separatist group, a move heavily criticized by the then opposition BJP.

In a 2015 interview with Al Jazeera, Khar said the Zardari government had turned to regional interests. “We didn’t need to have a great relationship with London or with Washington DC, but we needed a great relationship with Kabul and Delhi,” she said.

She had also criticized the United States for its policy towards Pakistan in the same interview.

Speaking to Pakistan’s Geo News channel in 2016, Khar said Pakistan could not “conquer Kashmir through war” and that the issue could only be resolved through dialogue based on an “environment of mutual trust with India”.

Connection with Zardari

Khar’s return to the crucial role of MP has given way to speculation that Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 33, will be sworn in as foreign minister in the coming days. Khar had previously been romantically involved with Zardari.

So far, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced his 34-member cabinet but has yet to name a new foreign minister.

Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir Zardari told The Wire that Zardari’s absence was due to his involvement in resolving crucial political issues with partners. According to Mir, Zardari would be appointed foreign minister within the next 14 to 20 days.

(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)