In her previous term as foreign minister, Khar had been instrumental in carving out what is described as an innovative foreign policy that was focused on improving relations with Pakistan’s neighbours Afghanistan and India. She has also been an advocate of reducing Pakistan’s dependence on the US.
Hina Rabbani Khar is back in Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry. She assumed office as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the second time after taking oath in the newly formed Shehbaz Sharif cabinet on Tuesday.
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In 2011, Khar had served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, becoming the youngest and the first woman to hold the post.
In her brief tenure as the foreign minister, Khar was instrumental in carving out what is described as an innovative foreign policy that focused on improving relations with Pakistan’s neighbours Afghanistan and India. She has also been an advocate of reducing Pakistan’s dependence on the US.
Khar had visited India in 2011 when a media frenzy erupted over her lavish style and expensive accessories.
"Khar's glamorous turn triggered a media swoon and became the buzz of the sub-continental chattering class," The Guardian had reported in 2011.
After taking oath as the minister on Tuesday, Khar chaired her first high-level meeting where she stressed the need for “sincere efforts” to address the challenges on the diplomatic front, Express Tribune reported.
Who is Hina Rabbani Khar?
Khar was born into a powerful oligarch and political family in the district of Muzaffargarh in southern Punjab. Her father Ghulam Rabbani Khar, also a politician, had served as a member of the Pakistan National Assembly. Khar graduated from Lahore University of Management Science before going to the US for her Masters at the University of Massachusetts.
She was inducted into politics at the age of 25 after her return from the US. According to The Guardian, Hina’s father addressed rallies and glad-handed voters during her first elections, while she mostly stayed home. Even her photo did not appear on the posters. However, since then she has displayed a deft political touch.
She was one of the few ministers to move from being a cabinet member under the military government of General Pervez Musharraf to holding a key ministerial post in the civilian government under President Asif Ali Zardari.
Role as foreign minister
With former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party seeking snap general elections, there may not be much time for the Sharif government to formulate foreign policy given that the country is already going through severe economic stress, The Wire reported.
In her earlier stint, Khar had resumed talks between India and Pakistan which had been suspended after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. During her visit, she had discussed issues related to trade and Kashmir. Back then, Khar had also held talks with the Hurriyat Conference, a separatist Kashmir group, a move that was highly criticised by the then Opposition BJP.
In an interview with Al Jazeera in 2015, Khar had said the Zardari government had pivoted 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 had said.
She had also criticised the US for its policy on Pakistan in the same interview.
Speaking to Pakistani channel Geo News in 2016, Khar said Pakistan could not “conquer Kashmir through war” and that the issue could be resolved only through dialogue based on an “environment of mutual trust with India”.
Connection with Zardari
Khar’s return to the crucial deputy role has given way to speculation that Pakistan Peoples’ Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 33, will take oath as the foreign minister in the next few days. Khar had been earlier romantically linked with Zardari.
So far, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced 34 members of his cabinet but has not yet named a new foreign minister.
Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir Zardari told The Wire that Zardari’s absence is due to his involvement in resolving crucial political issues with partners. According to Mir, Zardari would be appointed as foreign minister within the next 14-20 days.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)