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Meet Pak’s new foreign minister

world Updated: Jul 25, 2011 01:11 IST

After a five-month hiatus, Pakistan — a country with fraught relations with its eastern and western neighbors and a deteriorating relationship with the United States — has finally got itself a new foreign minister.

Earlier this week, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, was sworn in as the country’s head of foreign policy. Khar is not only the youngest person but also the first woman to occupy the prestigious post in Pakistan’s 64-year history.

Khar’s appointment is not exactly a surprise as she had been serving as a sort of junior foreign minister since February when a Cabinet reshuffle saw former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi lose his job.

The circumstances of Qureshi’s dismissal remain unclear, but the fact that it took five months to replace him gives a measure of the current government’s internal tensions as well as friction with the country’s powerful military establishment.

Najam Sethi, a political analyst and editor-in-chief of the Friday Times, said Khar’s appointment is the result of a compromise between Zardari, who needs someone he can trust politically, and the Army, which is “very comfortable” with Khar.

“The reason they got her as foreign minister is that she is very amenable and pliable,” Sethi said.

Khar started her political career in 2002 as a member of the National Assembly and later served as a minister in former President Pervez Musharraf’s government. She then switched her political affiliation to the current ruling party — Pakistan Peoples Party — and in 2008 was named senior official in the present government’s finance ministry.

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