Hina Rabbani takes oath as Pak`s Foreign Minister

Hina Rabbani Khar took oath as Pak`s new Foreign Minister, becoming the youngest person and the first woman to be elevated to the key post.

Islamabad: Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday took
oath as Pakistan`s new Foreign Minister, becoming the youngest
person and the first woman to be elevated to the key post
ahead of crucial peace talks with India.

Acting on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani, President Asif Ali Zardari elevated 34-year-old Khar
as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. She was earlier the
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Khar was administered the oath of office at the
Aiwan-e-Sadr or presidency by Acting President Farooq H Naik
as President Zardari was away on a visit to Afghanistan.

Senior officials and members of the federal cabinet
and the diplomatic corps in Islamabad attended the oath-taking
ceremony.

"Ms Khar has the distinction of being the youngest and
first woman Foreign Minister of Pakistan," said a brief
statement issued by the Foreign Office.

She beat a record held by late former premier Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto, who was appointed Foreign Minister at the age of
35.

Khar`s first foreign engagement as a full-fledged
minister will be to lead the Pakistani delegation to a meeting
of the ASEAN Regional Forum to be held in Bali, Indonesia,
during July 22-23.

She is expected to have bilateral meetings with
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the ARF meeting.

"On return, she will proceed to India for the
ministerial-level dialogue in the Pakistan-India resumed
dialogue process with her Indian counterpart, Minister SM
Krishna," the Foreign Office statement said.

Earlier reports had said that Khar was expected to be
sworn after President Zardari returned from his day-long visit
to Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Gilani advised the President to make
Khar the Foreign Minister before leaving on a private visit to
Britain yesterday.

Gilani met Khar at the Prime Minister`s House before
leaving for London and discussed her new role.
Foreign Office strategists had urged the Presidency to
set an earlier date for Khar`s swearing-in so to avoid an
impression that she was elevated only to remove a protocol
hitch for her upcoming meeting with External Affairs Minister
SM Krishna, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Khar had emerged in recent weeks as a front-runner in
the race for the slot of Foreign Minister, which has been
vacant since previous incumbent Shah Mahmood Qureshi was
removed during a cabinet reshuffle in February.

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

She was a member of the PML-Q party during former
military ruler Pervez Musharraf`s regime and joined the ruling
Pakistan People`s Party ahead of the 2008 general election.

PTI

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