Hina Rabbani Khar | Stepping out of the shadows

Hina Rabbani Khar
| Picture Credit score: Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Twenty years into her political profession, and 10 years after she grew to become Pakistan’s first feminine Overseas Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, now Minister of State for Overseas Affairs in Pakistan, nonetheless generates remark for what she wears. Final week, it was the significance of her apparel that took social media by storm once more, when she met with the Taliban’s high management throughout a go to to Kabul, the primary by any feminine Minister because the extremely conservative radical militants took energy in August 2021.

As an alternative of sporting the hijabs and burkhas mandated by the Taliban for Afghan ladies, the picture of Ms. Khar wearing her signature monochrome salwar kameez with a dupatta or scarf loosely protecting her head, and searching the Taliban’s performing Overseas Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi squarely within the eyes as she sat as the only girl in a room stuffed with males, received favour again dwelling in Pakistan.

Optics of the assembly

The optics of the occasion have been as essential for the Taliban as they have been for Ms. Khar, nevertheless, because the regime has nonetheless not been recognised by any nation on this planet, and has damaged each promise it has remodeled the standing of ladies in Afghanistan. Since final August, Taliban decrees have stored hundreds of thousands of younger Afghan women out of faculties and faculties, pressured most girls working in authorities, banks and different establishments out of jobs, enforced strict costume codes that cowl ladies fully, and most lately banned them from parks, gyms and every other public recreation.

Whereas Ms. Khar’s go to didn’t obtain any aid for Afghan ladies, it did enable Taliban Ministers to be seen welcoming a lady chief. The Kabul go to is only one of quite a few visits made by Ms. Khar the place her model is usually seen overshadowing the substance. However she has made a popularity for being efficient.

For all her political aptitude, she got here to politics by fluke — she was chosen to run rather than her father, feudal politician Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar, within the 2002 elections, held beneath Normal Pervez Musharraf, when politicians and not using a college diploma have been disqualified.

Then lower than 25 years previous, Ms. Khar was a graduate in Economics from the celebrated Lahore College of Administration Sciences (LUMS) and a Grasp’s diploma holder in hospitality administration within the U.S. In Pakistan, she and her businessman husband arrange a restaurant known as ‘Polo Lounge’.

Whereas there was no query that Ms. Khar owes her political profession to her household background, she has been no wallflower when in workplace. As Pakistan’s Overseas Minister in 2011, she famously got here to Delhi to fulfill with Indian Minister of Exterior Affairs S.M. Krishna within the first such go to because the Mumbai 26/11 assaults, and later met with Russian Overseas Minister Sergey Lavrov in a go to geared toward secretly constructing a brand new Russia-Pakistan dialogue that grew in response to higher India-U.S. ties.

In each instances, Ms. Khar held her personal with politicians whose political careers have been longer than her years, though, expectedly, a lot of the media remark targeted on her designer ‘Birkin’ luggage and Cavalli glasses.

In her present position as Minister of State in Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition Cupboard, she has accepted a demotion to make method for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 11 years her junior, who was elected to the Nationwide Meeting solely 4 years in the past.

FATF job

Her huge task this yr, to signify Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force’s conferences that evaluated its strikes to counter terror financing and cash laundering, earned her a feather in her cap as Pakistan was taken off the “greylist”.

It stays to be seen whether or not Ms. Khar, whose twitter-bio describes her as an “incorrigible optimist” and a “sturdy believer in Regional Peace”, will probably be despatched to India within the subsequent few months for what may very well be one other robust task, as Pakistan is about to affix conferences beneath India’s Presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

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