The foreign ministry on Thursday confirmed that the minister of state for foreign affairs would lead Pakistan at the ministerial-level talks with India later this month.
When Hina Rabbani Khar meets Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in the last week of July in New Delhi as part of the ongoing peace process between the two neighbours, she will become the youngest minister to represent Pakistan at the crucial talks between the nuclear-armed countries.
It is not yet clear if 34-year-old Khar will formally be elevated to foreign minister. However, even if she is not, it is certain that she now enjoys the status of foreign minister.
Doubts have already begun surfacing about whether an inexperienced politician should be delegated the task of handling one of the most crucial ministries, especially at a time when it faces some of its toughest challenges yet.
The Press Trust of India recently quoted sources as saying that she is not being taken seriously in New Delhi.
The elevation of Khar, sources claimed, would suit the country’s security establishment as she is not perceived to be as independent-minded as her predecessor Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Qureshi resigned from the post in February after opposing the government’s policy in the Raymond Davis controversy.
At her weekly news briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said the dates for a meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India were being finalised.“Hina Rabbani Khar will lead the Pakistan delegation at the talks with India,” she said in reply to a question.
Prior to the ministerial-level talks, the two foreign secretaries will meet to finalise the agenda, she added. She also told reporters that a meeting of working groups on confidence building measures between the two countries would take place in New Delhi on July 18.
The meeting seeks to strengthen and streamline the existing trade and travel arrangements across the Line of Control.
Briefing the media about US- Pak relations, Tehmina insisted that relations between Pakistan and the US were back on track.
“I can say it clearly that the relationship is on track. There is an effort that is being made by both countries to work on the strategic dialogue process which has been undertaken by the two countries,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2011.