`Hina Rabbani Khar has nothing new to offer`

Last Updated: Thursday, October 6, 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.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 13:26

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