Hina Rabbani KharHina Rabbani Khar (Urdu: حنا ربانی کھر; born 19 january 1977) is a Pakistani politician and the current Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Appointed in July of 2011, she is the first female and the youngest person to ever head Pakistani’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

She was elected to the National Assembly in both 2002 and 2008 and was Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs between 2008 and 2011.

Early life and education

Hina Rabbani Khar was born on 19 November 1977 in Multan, Punjab, Pakistan in a Muslim Jat family. She is the daughter of politician and landowner Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar and the niece of Ghulam Mustafa Khar, a former governor of Punjab. The Khar family has roots in the village of Khar Gharbi located in Kot Adu, a tehsil in Muzaffargarh District in Punjab; and has many land holdings: an estate that includes fisheries, mango orchards, and sugarcane fields. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1999 and received her M Sc (Hon) in Business Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2001.

Personal life

She is married to Firoze Gulzar, with whom she has two daughters, Annaya and Dina . She is the co-owner of the Polo Lounge restaurant on the Lahore Polo Grounds.

Political career

In the 2002 general elections, as a candidate with the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) (PML-Q)—the party of President Pervez Musharraf—Khar was elected to the National Assembly, representing the NA-177 Muzaffargarh-II constituency in Punjab, a position her father had held previously, but a new law requiring all candidates to hold a university degree meant he could not run that year. The Guardian wrote, “In deference to local sensibilities about the place of women, her landlord father Noor addressed rallies and glad-handed voters; Hina stayed largely at home, with not even her photo appearing on the posters.” After the PML-Q denied her a ticket for re-election in 2008, she joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and was elected for a second time. The PPP won the majority of the votes and formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League (N). They nominated and elected Yousaf Raza Gillani as Prime Minister.

Between 2004 and 2007 Khar was Minister of State for Economic Affairs (Pakistan)|Minister of State for Economic Affairs. She served as Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs in the cabinet of Gillani between 2008 and 2011. On 13 June 2009, she became the first woman to present the Pakistani budget in the National Assembly.

Foreign Minister

Khar (sitting on right) signing the Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul in June 2011. Standing behind Khar is Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and standing behind Rassoul is Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Khar was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs—the deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—on 11 February 2011, as part of Gillani’s cabinet reshuffle. After Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s resignation as Foreign Minister, she became acting Minister of Foreign Affairs on 13 February 2011. She was approved as Foreign Minister on 18 July and was sworn-in on 19 July, becoming the youngest and first female Minister of Foreign Affairs. President Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Musharraf in 2008, said the appointment was “a demonstration of the government’s commitment to bring women into the mainstream of national life”.

Shortly after her appointment, she visited India and held peace talks with her Indian counterpart, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna. Relations between the two countries had been suspended following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, resuming in February 2011. The Indian media reported extensively on her fashion and appearance—the Birkin bag, the sunglasses, the Jimmy Choo stilettos and the pearl necklaces, for example. She held talks with separatist leaders of Kashmir before meeting Indian government representatives, a decision which was criticised by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party of India, who said it was a breach of protocol and demanded an inquiry into the matter. In August 2011 she visited China and held talks with Yang Jiechi, the Chinese foreign minister. Hindustan Times reported that, in contrast to her reception in India, she was largely ignored by Chinese media.

As a result of the November 26, 2011 incident which killed 24 Pakistani troops, Foreign Minister Khar stated that Pakistan’s Cabinet and defense committee had approved a measure- similar to a parliamentary resolution put forward after bin Laden’s May 2011 death- that formally bars NATO and ISAF forces from using Pakistani supply routes.

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