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Meet Pak's youngest and first woman foreign minister

Last updated on: July 19, 2011 23:30 IST

Meet Pak's youngest and first woman foreign minister

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Hina Rabbani Khar, on Tuesday, became the youngest and first woman foreign minister of Pakistan. The swearing-in ceremony was held at Islamabad where Farooq H A Naik, chairman senate and caretaker president presided over the ceremony in the absence of President Asif Ali Zardari, who is in Kabul for a day-long visit. 

Although Hina Rabbani Khar's first foreign engagement is likely to be a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional forum to be held in Bali, Indonesia, during this week, the real task ahead of her would be leading the country's delegation for foreign minister-level talks with India later this month to review progress on the bilateral peace process.

Khar was working as acting minister of foreign affairs since February 2011, as the slot of federal foreign minister was vacant since previous incumbent Shah Mahmood Qureshi was removed during a cabinet reshuffle.

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Image: Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's new foreign minister
Photographs: Faisal Mahmood /Reuters
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Pak's new foreign minister comes in at a difficult time

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However, there are some concerns about her appointment, as she is considered too young to handle the complex issues related to Pakistan foreign policy. She holds the post at a time when Pakistan's relations with countries like the United States, India and Afghanistan are not in a good shape.

After Osama Bin Laden's killing in Abbottabad, America's relation with the key ally, Pakistan is deteriorating with each passing day. A new cross border controversy has emerged with Afghanistan, and both countries are blaming each other for using the Taliban for their vested interests.

Despite remaining as acting FM for almost five months no one seems to know Khar's opinion on key issues like relation with US, India, Afghanistan or the war on terror.

Recently, while interacting with the media along with United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague, Khar was asked about the peace deal with the Afghan Taliban. Khar apparently astonished reporters when she started discussing Pakistan's peace deal with homegrown Taliban in Swat.

Hina, 34, is the daughter of veteran politician Malik Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar and the niece of former governor Punjab Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar. The name 'Khar' stems from village 'Khar Gharbi', which is located in Muzaffargarh District in Punjab.

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Image: Hina Rabbani Khar
Photographs: Reuters
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Khar Pak's first woman to present the budget speech

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Before joining Pakistan Peoples Party ahead of the 2008 general elections, she was the member of PML-Q during the presidency of Pervez Musharraf. She served as the state minister for economic affairs and statistics and was the first woman in the history of Pakistan to present a budget speech in the National Assembly in 2009.

Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam badly lost the elections of 2008 due to its mismanagement of the economy and shortage of food, water and energy. The party denied Hina Khar a ticket, so she joined PPP. In both the governments she came to the national assembly seats reserved for women.

Khar completed her B.Sc degree from Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1999 and went on to earn an M.Sc in hospitality trade and tourism from the University of Massachusetts in 2001. In 2008, she was named in the World Economic Forum's list of young global leaders. She is married to Feroz Gulzar, a businessman.

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Image: File photo of US Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker speaking with Khar
Photographs: Reuters
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