Hina Rabbani Khar – Criticism Trashed! – by Hifza Shah Jillani

Politics has become a part of routine life now. With much exposure and media influence, discussing politics and social issues has become much of a ‘drawing room affair’ as I’d like to put it.

With the recent hot topic, I’d like to start the discussion. Yes, it’s Hina Rabbani Khar, the much debated focus of Pakistani politics these days. Either it’s the media criticism, media flattery or the flashy photos; it has caught MUCH attention of public and common spectators.

The analysts and critiques of HRK argue on the following points that I would put forth.

First allegation towards her is that ‘She is rich. Birkins, Cavilli holding and comes from a feudal background’. What I respond to that is; since my anthropological study does not encourage me to use the term ‘Feudal’, which is a medieval European construct specifically used for South Asia, so I won’t really delve into that. She does come from a ‘Zamindari’ heritage and is quite laden in monetary and accessories terms. And so are her contemporaries of both genders in the parliament. Does that directly say that she is unable to represent the poverty driven Pakistanis? Not really. As you see all over the wide world the elected politicians from Merkel, Putin, Sarkozy to Berlusconi are far more elite than the common people of the countries they represent.

Second one goes on with something like this, ‘She is appointed to look all good and do nothing’, implying that HRK is a TOKEN Foreign Minister. Also, saying that she does not carry the flag of ‘Democracy’. My response to this one is; only her performance can support or completely negate the perception of being a token. The real substance if there is cannot stay hidden from us. Time will only tell if she can make up to that or not. As for speaking about her relation with democracy, the fact that she won the elections and made it here to the post is self evident about her democratic status.

Third critique is about her qualification. She is alleged to be inexperienced and young for the position. This is the most popular one of the critiques by the way. The fact is that she holds a Masters degree in hotel management from Massachusetts University and has attained her undergraduation from our very own LUMS. But let’s come to this, how many Foreign Ministers of Pakistan or in fact Foreign Ministers in the world actually own degrees in International Relations or Foreign Services? The ‘inexperienced and young’ bit also fails to criticize her in pragmatic essence. If we look back in history, we see Caesar, Akbar, Alexander coming to power at a very young age, in fact younger than HRK and they actually CONQUERED the world. Some statesmen were actually her age when they became politicians, including, Otto van Bismarck, Metternich and Talleyrand. Also, one of the most profound leaders of Pakistan, our very own ZA Bhutto was way younger than HRK when he was to represent Pakistan at United Nations. Her inexperience, well yes, is not enough since she has only 5 months of experience as a state minister of Foreign Affairs. I’d say just like her predecessors she will learn it over the time.

Fourth one speaks about her Political substance which says ‘She was articulate, but she lacked substance’. If spoken from an undergraduate of foreign services perspective, this is called Diplomacy. It’s all about being dull, diplomatic and safe kinds of double speak. As Professor Madeline Albright, a former secretary of state says, ‘The first duty of a statesman is that he be dull’. So I guess, yes it’s quite impressive that she is taking a safe stance on that one.

To conclude about her allegations and my response towards them I’d like to analyze the whole situation in a few words as being a closing to the brief discussion. I really do not appreciate the sexist comments and sensational lines for her that media professes, calling her ‘bomb/weapon of mass destruction of Pakistan’. It sidetracks from the whole point. Since we don’t see much of Media talking about male politician’s brands and accessories such as Saville Row/Saks Fifth Avenue tailored suits, expensive watches or cuff links, I’d say lets really look in to the crux of the issue. Her talks in India weren’t supposed to bring anything more than just CBMs. And she did make that happen. Trade with India through Kashmir has doubled up from 2 days to actually 4 days. Tourism visas will now be granted to the Kashmiris who do not come from families across the border and also to add cherry on top, the bus service will now travel across Kabul to Srinagar.

What really matters is the fact that these talks actually took place. It has been three years since the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks, that India- Pakistan relationship has steeped even more in to shadowy passages. But now, after just two weeks from a shooting incident in Mumbai, with some much plausible accusation towards a Pakistani based terrorist group, India & Pakistan are holding talks about CBMs. The point is not that it’s happening because or HRK, neither I am giving her the credits of it. But she could actually be playing a part in the entire equation somehow. The former FM, Shah M. Qureishi was claimed as being quite hawkish towards India. A new face (that has very well caught some goodwill) tends to mend the sensitive sourness that sparked a new flame after Mumbai 2008.

The newly conceived relationship, ‘Khar-Krishna’ and its meeting did somewhat meet the agenda. So to say that HRK has pretty much dealt with things in a neutral and genuine way might receive some nods up here. It is much pragmatic if we let time decide. After all, who can be a better critique than time?



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