ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will stay in the ministry for at least another six months, highly-placed sources told The Express Tribune.
Khar wanted to quash the impression that she has been brought in as a stopgap arrangement after Shah Mehmood Qureshi was removed as minister for foreign affairs.
“I will be with you for at least another six months,” she said at a recent orientation meeting with senior officers of the ministry.
At the meeting, all additional secretaries and directors-general briefed the state minister on their assignments. Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir was conspicuous by his absence in the session.
Sources said that Bashir is being replaced with another senior bureaucrat Zameer Akram as foreign secretary. They added that Bashir wants to be sent on a diplomatic assignment to New York.
Bashir is nearing his retirement and according to a tradition in the foreign ministry every secretary is given an ambassadorial assignment before his retirement.
The meeting, which lasted over two hours, focused on economic issues, a source told The Express Tribune, adding that Khar did not discuss the issue of American national Raymond Davis which has been straining relations between Pakistan and the United States.
“In fact she was trying to assert herself as minister of foreign affairs. It appears that she is being groomed for the important assignment,” the source said.
Khar was state minister for economic affairs before the ‘rightsizing’ of the federal cabinet. She had also served in the federal cabinet during the rule of former president Pervez Musharraf.
Recently she was engaged for the crucial task of introducing political and administrative reforms in FATA.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2011.