He was born in 1932; she in 1977. Trying his best not to sound patronising despite such seniority, Indian foreign minister SM Krishna has written a letter to welcome Pakistan’s newly appointed and youngest ever foreign minister.
Hina Rabbani Khar, who was appointed just days before the upcoming round of talks with India, is also scheduled to meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during an ASEAN meeting in Indonesia later this week.
According to a foreign ministry statement Krishna looks forward to meeting her in New Delhi and hopes to work closely towards the common goal of establishing friendly bilateral relations in the interest of the people of both countries.
Khar, who will visit India on July 26 and 27, will get a courteous but guarded welcome as she arrives soon after fresh bomb blasts in Mumbai. Pakistan’s former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had ruffled some feathers here after his last encounter with Krishna in Pakistan, which had begun and ended in a tense mood owing to Indian Home Secretary’s remarks. Khar’s appointment, therefore, is being anticipated as a positive step to bridge differences.
Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on Pakistani military and the author of Military Inc says much of the foreign ministry’s bureaucracy headed by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, who is a brother of the navy chief, is geared to serve the military’s purpose.
Shaukat Tarin, who served as Pakistan’s finance minister when Khar was minister of state feels, “This will not be an easy ride because of the complex issues being faced by Pakistan and the way foreign policy is formulated within our country where there are many influence groups which the foreign minister has to work with.”
Meanwhile President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement that her appointment is “a demonstration of the government’s commitment to bring women into the mainstream and would send positive signals about Pakistan’s soft image.” [With additional input from Reuters]
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2011.
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