Pakistan’s new foreign minister has earned her portfolio

Dear Editor,

Hina Rabbani Khar, a young vibrant and brilliant women at the age of 34 became Pakistan’s foreign minister a few days ago. But this is not a token appointment of a woman, nor has she been given this important portfolio to ease Pakistan’s political standing in the world; she earned it. Hina was a junior foreign minister and was given some challenging assignments. Prior to that, she was Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs in which she earned the respect of her people at home and those in the international community.  According to an editorial supporting her appointment, “Her performance as Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs earned her laurels not only from people of Pakistan but also from multilateral institutions with which she interacted with full grasp of the issues and intricacies involved.”

It is not a secret that there are elements in the government of Pakistan that support extremism and terrorism.  At times, some leaders of Pakistan, such as Benazir Bhutto had no idea what the military and intelligence were doing. She was out of the loop.  At the same time, India has failed to address the causes of domestic extremism and terrorism. It became fashionable to blame Pakistan and avoid for example addressing human rights abuses at home and the stripping of Kashmir’s autonomy.  It was only after Dr Manmohan Singh became prime minister that some of these issues were looked at. A member of a minority himself, who saw the lynching of Sikhs, suppression of lower castes, and the rise of sectarianism in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is changing the situation on the ground.

Rabbani is a moderate, soft spoken, humble and articulate politician.  She represents the true face of Pakistan – moderate and progressive. Expectations of Hina are high. Some brilliant women emerged briefly in Pakistan’s political history.  “Pakistani politics have seen many women who descended after playing a short innings but Hina Rabbani Khar has emerged as one of the glaring distinctions because of her cool temperament, polite manners, hard work and intelligence.”  Sadly, the moderate face and voice of Pakistan have been overshadowed by a handful of extremists.

Hina is an advocate of friendly India-Pakistan ties and will be in India next week to meet her Indian counterpart. It is in India’s interest to see a vibrant, stable and economically stable Pakistan.

Pakistan-Guyana ties are deeply rooted since the arrival of South Asians in British Guiana in 1838.  A diplomatic relationship was established between the two countries after Guyana gained independence in 1966. A well-known woman in the history of Pakistan, Begum Husanara Khan Hakkam, was born in Guyana. She was the daughter of the founder of the Queenstown Masjid, Gool Mohammad Khan. Begum Hakkam was part of the Pakistan movement in the 1940s and the first Muslim Magistrate in Bengal province.  Today, Pakistan and Guyana have appointed consuls in each other’s countries. Pakistan has also appointed an ambassador to Guyana.

Yours faithfully,
Ray Chickrie

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