Dawn News

Hina Khar sworn in as foreign minister

ISLAMABAD, July 19: Hina Rabbani Khar became Pakistan’s first woman foreign minister on Tuesday, prior to a number of key foreign assignments, including a round of peace talks with India.

The 34-year-old minister of state for foreign affairs was elevated to the post of full minister when both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani were out of the country. She was sworn in by Acting President Farooq H. Naek at a ceremony at the presidency, hours after the president had left for a brief official visit to Afghanistan.

As Pakistan’s 26th and youngest foreign minister, Ms Khar, who has taken up the post five months after her predecessor Shah Mahmood Qureshi lost the job amid a diplomatic row with the United States, will lead Pakistani delegation at the Association for South East Asian Nations (Asean) forum on July 22-23 in Bali, Indonesia, and on the sidelines, will hold talks with her US and Chinese counterparts.

But her most important assignment as foreign minister would be the July 27 meeting with her Indian counterpart S.M.

Krishna in New Delhi in what will be resumption of ministerial level talks in the troubled peace dialogue since its disruption by the November 2009 Mumbai attacks.

Prime Minister Gilani had communicated to the presidency about Ms Khar’s appointment before leaving for a private visit to Britain on Monday and President Zardari left the swearing-in to be done by Mr Naek apparently because of his tight travel schedule.

Foreign Office strategists were reported to have been urging the presidency for early elevation of Ms Khar to avoid an impression that it was being done only to remove what some saw as a protocol hitch for her meeting with the Indian foreign minister.

A scion of the famous Khar family of Muzaffargarh district in south Punjab, Ms Khar, an MSc in hospitality trade and tourism from the University of Massachusetts, US, is daughter of politician Noor Rabbani Khar and a niece of former Punjab governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar.

Previously she had the distinction of being the first woman to present in parliament the country’s budget in 2009 as minister of state for finance.

In a message of felicitation, President Zardari described Ms Khar’s appointment as a demonstration of the PPP government’s “commitment to bring women into the mainstream of national life”.

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Comments (8) Closed

Jul 20, 2011 12:44pm
i am very glade to know the assigned work for Hina rabbani khur as a foreign Minester of pakistan.being a PSF activist i would congratulate my younger leader and my best wishes for her. my recommendation to Hina is to address the youth of pakistan globaly as we have lost our standered due to notorious actions by fundementalist.i love both Hina and Zardari.
Jul 20, 2011 02:13pm
Sad choice..the Pakistanis should have chosen a mature, experienced person for this crucial choice and not a 'hospitality-tourism' MA!
Yusuf Pingar
Jul 20, 2011 05:11pm
Thank God at least educated people are taking important roles in Pakistani politics. It's about time we have foreign ministers who are well exposed to the world and have a sound educational background. Though not ideal in terms of her experience, she far better than the typical ministers who have no clue about their job and role. Also, a woman foreign minister will help improve the poor image of Pakistan abroad in terms of women's rights etc.
Jul 20, 2011 05:21pm
In this crucial time we really need some mature leaders not the people who are just filling the blanks. The leaders who knows the meaning of leadership.
Jul 20, 2011 07:58pm
A 34 year old FM to me signals that Foreign Policy will now be completely controlled by khakis.
Jul 20, 2011 09:05pm
Pakistan's best choice would have been Riaz Khokhar or Qasuri. This is bad choice.
Jul 20, 2011 11:56pm
Poor choice . Especially when she has to deal with veterans like Krishna,indian foreign minister . She should be the minister of Tourism in PPP's cabinet where she has to do nothing like any other ministry.
Nisar Khan
Jul 24, 2011 07:48am
It sounds a better choice amidst the lot available. Hopefully should be backed by Establishment and Civil State to combat the existing challenges and endeavour to upgrade relations with China, Iran , Afghanistan and Middle East and nullify the complexity with USA.In this regard to immediately call conference of all Diplomats in Islamabad to Introduce herself and seek cooperation of all countries for the welfare of Pakistan.She should act softly, but firmly on all outstanding issues. Also reconcile the Taliban with stakeholders and preferably seek assistance from other countries to solve energy issues through civil atomic process. Hope for the best. Thanks