If officials of the Pakistan foreign office had their way, 34-year-old Hina Rabbani Khar, who was appointed minister of state for foreign affairs in February, would be made Pakistan’s foreign minister.
Senior officials say that unlike her predecessor Shah Mehmood Qureshi “who was a showman and a politician with ambitions,” Khar “does what she is told”. She prefers to stay low key and rarely comes on television.
But that does not mean that Khar, who graduated from the Lahore Institute of Management Sciences and has an MSc from the University of Massachusetts, has no idea of what she is doing.
Khar is one of the few women parliamentarians to have been elected on a general seat. She was elected from Tehsil Kot Addu, an underdeveloped part of Punjab province. She was the first woman in Pakistan to have presented a budget. She held the portfolio of minister of state for the economic affairs division. Later, she was appointed the prime minister’s advisor on finance.
In the 2002 elections, Khar was elected from Muzaffargarh (Kot Addu) on a ticket of the PML-Q party. She stood for elections because her father, Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar, was ineligible to stand for elections, as he did not have a university degree.
Khar, and some other politicians who formed the Young Parliamentarians’ Forum were seen to be close to prime minister Shaukat Aziz. In the 2008 elections, she joined the Pakistan Peoples Party. After the elections, Khar was given back her portfolio in the Gilani cabinet. However, it is believed that President Asif Ali Zardari is wary of giving her full charge of foreign affairs minister. That is why the announcement of a foreign minister has been delayed.