`Hina Rabbani Khar has nothing new to offer`
Last Updated: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 13:26
Islamabad: Indians may have gone gaga over Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her recent visit to New Delhi, but Fatima Bhutto, the fiery writer-activist niece of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, doesn't seem impressed with the minister's credentials.

Khar may be young and a woman but she has nothing new to offer, said the 29-year-old granddaughter of former premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

"Gender is never a substitute for ethics or justice. I don't care whether she is young or old, or a woman. I want to know what she is saying," she said.

"What is sad about the political culture of Pakistan is that we don't talk about ideas, we just talk about people. And what she is saying seems to be exactly the same thing that people have been saying before for the last 30 years," Bhutto told Deutsche Welle in an interview.

"What I want to know, is how can an independent country like Pakistan have a foreign policy that makes us subservient to almost every country we deal with? That to me is outrageous. How do you have a nuclear country, a rich country whose policy is based around begging for aid?"

Bhutto said, making someone like 34-year-old Khar foreign minister sends a message especially to young people "that the only way into politics in Pakistan is through families - and for a country of 180 million people that?s a really rotten thing to tell them".

Khar, 34, became Pakistan's youngest and first woman Foreign Minister in July when she was elevated to the status of a full-fledged cabinet minister.

She is the daughter of veteran politician Malik Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar and the niece of former Governor Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar.

When told that Khar, much like herself, was part of the small elite that ruled Pakistan, Bhutto quipped: "I think there is a problem with the dynastic culture of my country.

Until democratic institutions are strengthened and run freely, something like dynasty just subverts the democratic process. I don't think this will change in my lifetime. I think it needs generations to fix and a commitment to democratic ideas."

Asked if she was afraid that something might happen to her because of her outspokenness, the author of "Songs of Blood and Sword" said, "You know I think everybody in Pakistan is afraid, because there is no recourse against state violence. And that's historical: The violence ebbs and flows.

"Some governments are more violent than others. This is a period of intense violence. But in a place that is as dangerous when it comes to violence and freedom as Pakistan is, to be silent doesn’t make you safer, it makes you more vulnerable."

Bhutto said the only thing she loved about Pakistan was that it was a "survivors' country".

"...I think it's a place that survives against the odds: the ordinary people that make it run. I think that it's a place that has always been open, in terms of hospitality, in terms of warmth, to new people, to new cultures. I think that it’s a place that struggles to build something that is more just, that is different than what is imposed from above. I think that is unique about Pakistan," she said.


First Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 13:26

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