Show me a soft image of Pakistan and I will present it: Hina Rabbani Khar

Published: February 7, 2016
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Former foreign minister chats about her life: personal, professional and political. PHOTO: ONLINE

Former foreign minister chats about her life: personal, professional and political. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: 

Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar does not mince her words when asked why she could not do more about the state of tourism in the country. “Give me a soft image of Pakistan and I will present it,” she said. “It is difficult to promote activities that I, myself, feel insecure attempting.”

Khar was talking about her passion for polo and mountaineering during a conversation with Omayr Aziz Saiyid on the third day of the 7th Karachi Literature Festival. She believed that we, as a nation, are oblivious to the reality of a diverse Pakistan. “There is tremendous potential here.”

Slamming rumours: Hina Rabbani Khar confirms she is not quitting PPP

The former foreign minister spoke candidly about her personal, professional and political life to a large crowd in the main garden of Beach Luxury hotel.

Did her upbringing help set the stage for her future as a politician and businesswoman? Khar agreed. “My upbringing had a huge role to play,” she said. “People in Pakistan are divided and there is an apparent disconnect between the urban and rural classes. Luckily, I got to spend all my vacations during in the village which was a true privilege,” she explained.

“In a rural setting, there is an apparent co-existence – you live and grow up with the people you work with,” she said. “Living in an urban setting, it becomes very difficult to imagine the lack of infrastructure if you haven’t experienced it first-hand. You get access to how under-privileged the majority of Pakistan is.”

She said that it is a general misconception that there is no demand for access to higher standards and better access to health, education and sanitation in rural settings.

Military still plays bloated role in Pakistan’s politics: Hina Rabbani Khar

When asked about her experience at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums), she said, “I’d give up my experience at Amherst for my experience at Lums.”

On regional security, she said, “We must internalise our responsibilities before we attempt to influence our neighbours. Let’s fix Balochistan first and then talk about Afghanistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th,  2016.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Feb 8, 2016 - 9:13AM

    How about presenting a soft image of Bilawal, like ‘soft in the head’.Recommend

  • SK
    Feb 8, 2016 - 9:40AM

    She was Pakistan’s foreign as well as finance minister and yet she can’t find a thing for presenting as soft image- she did find enough money in the same country to buy Rs. 1.3 million purses- these are the very people who have brought the country to the ruins it is in today. we get rid of all such rotten ones and I am sure in 10 years time we will be a better nationRecommend

  • Soft Image
    Feb 8, 2016 - 11:00AM

    Were it not part of the “soft image,” I mean, your getting the benefit of the NRO?Recommend

  • wb
    Feb 8, 2016 - 12:09PM

    @SK:

    So, please enlighten us what soft image of Pakistan would you promote?Recommend

  • Rashid
    Feb 8, 2016 - 12:41PM

    She is raised in a feudal family. Her constituency in Kot Addu, Muzzaffargarh district is one of the most under developed area of Punjab. Kharr clan who is winning generation after generation from the same constituency has done nothing for the improvement of the people of their region. The Kharr clan (Ghulam Mustafa Kharr the uncle of Hina Rabani Kharr) has served at the highest constitutional posts like Governor of Punjab, Chief Minister of Punjab, Federal minister for Water and power. Still this family cant find anything to present it to the world.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Feb 8, 2016 - 12:55PM

    This year the KLF went very well….it was very well attended, well managed and well planned.
    Next year I feel they will need the hotel to open up more space, if possible. Recommend

  • Arsha
    Feb 8, 2016 - 12:58PM

    Pakistan has to focus on its own heritage and strengths …. There’s is the richness of music….. So many musicians visit India to spend time with the gurus of classical music…. Pakistan should establish a similar global presence by promoting the artists.

    Also the sites of Indus valley and taxila are the biggest assets….. And Pakistan should promote these similar to how India is trying to promote nalanda. However that would require accepting the heritage and taking pride in it.

    Pakistan needs to identify such strengths and build a global campaign around these.Recommend

  • singh
    Feb 8, 2016 - 1:43PM

    Soft image! What soft image?Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 8, 2016 - 1:57PM

    @SK:

    Pakistan does no longer have a soft image in the West, thanks to the military spokes person Bajwa, who has been successful in creating Pakistan perception of a militarised State where civilians are tried in military courts and sent to gallows without any judicial supervision..

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • PrakashG
    Feb 8, 2016 - 2:53PM

    It is not Pakistan’s fault. It is she lacking a Diploma is Marketing.Recommend

  • Usman
    Feb 8, 2016 - 4:24PM

    I remember a similar response from PM Gillani given to a CNN presenter. These PPP leaders are utterly inept. She’s talking as if it’s some other person’s responsibility to promote Pakistan, not hers. Typical attitude of feudals.Recommend

  • I am a Khan
    Feb 8, 2016 - 4:36PM

    Its not a matter of soft image…its a matter of priorities…Pakistan needs to improve its security and economic situation…and make strategic partnerships with friendly nations – China and the middle east (and far east countries should also be included). Recommend

  • Mian Abbas
    Feb 8, 2016 - 7:20PM

    She talks pretty loquacious but what a waste to read that she failed to answer one straight ask.! As far as our country is concern, it’s the richest and the blessed one (but) again comes prodigal leaders like her are the causes of it’s worse state.Recommend

  • Agrippa - The Skeptica
    Feb 8, 2016 - 9:02PM

    @Arsha: Also the sites of Indus valley and taxila are the biggest assets….. And Pakistan should promote these similar to how India is trying to promote nalanda. However that would require accepting the heritage and taking pride in it..

    … wouldn’t it be against the very foundation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?Recommend

  • Amir
    Feb 8, 2016 - 9:47PM

    “It is difficult to promote activities that I, myself, feel insecure attempting”

    Politicians and bureaucrats who will take vacations in Europe, US, Middle East etc, and are scared to come out of their own house without a convoy of protection escort, keep themselves distance from the population who had ignorantly elected them to serve, will never promote their own Country.

    What a lame interview. Unless these people start projecting us gently, we will keep on being labelled.

    Nepal & Sri Lanka, when insurgency was going on, still had tourists flocking their country.Recommend

  • Waqar
    Feb 8, 2016 - 10:22PM

    Actually, I think she did an excellent job as foreign minister despite her inexperience in diplomacy. Even now on international forums she does a very good job of defending Pakistan and its interests and stances in the face of critique on the same. As a diplomat it is simply not her job to present a soft image of Pakistan per se, that’s the job of other ministries and the private sector and civil society.Recommend

  • Karim
    Feb 8, 2016 - 10:24PM

    Given the stereotypes prevalent about Pakistan in the world, a woman being Pakistan’s foreign minister, and a very good one at that, is so far quite a lot of the soft image this country needs (not to sound sexist, I praise her for her performance rather than her gender or looks).Recommend

  • buba
    Feb 8, 2016 - 11:04PM

    She was foreign minister during the NATO summit debacle. You know when Zardari was invited to Chicago with the expectation of announcing opening of NATO supply line and he reneged at the last minute – he was snubbed by everyone – first time Obama refused to talk to a leader from another country. Has to be high on the list of Pakistan foreign policy blunders. Hina Rabbani Khar was promoting the trip as a success – that told me that she was a political hack and had no substance.Recommend

  • Bilal
    Feb 9, 2016 - 12:49AM

    Number of tourists visiting Northdern areas of Pakistan in 2015 almost doubled from 2014. This a clear depiction of people’s confidence in the improving security situation in the country. I think Miss Hina tried to hind her inabilities behind the worn out cloth of excuses that PPP is so very experienced at knitting. Even if the security situation was the reason behind her poor performance as the foreign minister then who in her view was responsible for that? PPP’s government. PPP is a dead horse now, the sooner the little left Jiyallas realize it, the better it is for them. Recommend

  • IKE
    Feb 9, 2016 - 1:02AM

    Let me think through this as to why she cannot find soft image of Pakistan. She grew up, partly, in Kot Adu, south punjab under the guidance of her uncle, Ex Governor of Punjab, Mustafa Khar. Mustafa was known as Sher e Punjab (Lion of Punjab) during the PPP Government of ZA Bhutto. He is a landlord who pays no taxes. He beat his wife and tortured servants and subjects. After the PPP Government, he moved to London and worked as an Agent for Indian Intelligence Agency, R&AW. He traveled to India many times and met with Indra Ghandhi. He said that he will enter Pakistan on an Indian Tank. I am not imagining this stuff, anyone can buy book My Feudal Lord written by Tehmena Durrani, Mustafa’s ex wife for $5. Ms. Khar grew up in this household. How can she have a soft image of Pakistan? Feudal and politicians are the main reasons for the sorry state of Pakistan. She and her family is responsible party and not the victim. Recommend

  • k k khan
    Feb 9, 2016 - 4:02AM

    Corollary when you elect incompetent and foolish peopleRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 9, 2016 - 6:11AM

    Miss Khar is an attractive lady who is very candid and direct in her comments and gives the impression of a talented person who is sincere and very loyal to her country. Not all is lost yet for Pakistan if there are people of her calibre come in the forefront. More.Khars and fewer Sharifs would not be a bad idea after all.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Zen
    Feb 9, 2016 - 8:57AM

    Kashmir has more foreign tourists than combined Pakistan.Recommend

  • Asad
    Feb 9, 2016 - 11:24AM

    you cannot do a thing, just enjoy your enormous wealth until it lasts Recommend

  • Abbassin
    Feb 9, 2016 - 11:56AM

    @Rex Minor:
    Looks, designer clothes and expensive purses are deceiving my friend. The inner person behind the cultivated persona, is out and out feudal, notwithstanding the fact that her family has been in the “forefront” of Pakistani politics-her uncle was Governor of Punjab and she was a Foreign minister. And if you were to ask me about their contribution, then to paraphrase her, I will say “show me one thing that your family has done for the betterment of Pakistan” As for her statement ‘’ show me a soft image of Pakistan and I will present it” I do not know what was the question, but I will help her with her amnesia, by telling her that she could have said a thing or two about her pet sports “Polo and Mountaineering” both of which are very historic and soft images of Pakistan. And for this alone, I invite the world to come visit Pakistan, to play Polo at the top of the world and then go and climb, not one but eight of the world’s magnificent snow packed peaks. Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 9, 2016 - 9:46PM

    @Abbassin:
    And if you were to ask me about their contribution, then to paraphrase her, I will say “show me one thing that your family has done for the betterment of Pakistan”

    But sir, no one is asking for your biased opinion, nor the discussion should be what her family has contributed? I have watched her performance in an Al Jazeera interview and found it a bit ammature but very sincere and down to earth. Nevermind, your polo gag in the Himalayas, the fact is that Pakistan territory under the army rule .is percieved to be unsafe and dangerous No hard feelings but this is how it is and there is nothing one can do to change the image which no one else but your own Government has created.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Mr_Batman
    Feb 10, 2016 - 2:36AM

    Just one question, if you knew you were no good for the job, why didn’t you quit, and let someone else have the top job, who was at least willing to try, Ms. Khar?Recommend

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