Hina Rabbani Khar is a Pakistani politician who served as the 21st Foreign Minister of Pakistan from February 2011 until March 2013. Appointed at age 33. She was the youngest person and the first woman to have held the position.
Hina Rabbani Khar is the daughter of a Muslim landowner and politician, Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar. She was born on January 19, 1977, in Multan. She hails from a feudal/political family and is extremely proud of her lineage.
Khar is married to Feroze Gulzar. Khar is co-owner of a restaurant called the “Polo Lounge”. The initial branch opened at the Lahore Polo Ground in 2002. A second Polo Lounge has since opened in Islamabad’s Saidpur Village.
Khar is a graduate of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) where she holds a BSc (with honors) in Economics conferred in 1999. She subsequently attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the United States where she earned an MSc in Business Management in 2002.
Khar has retained ties with LUMS since her graduation. In 2012, she delivered a lecture there on “Foreign Policy and Young Democracy”, and secured funding for the Abdus Salam Institute of Physics.
In the 2002 general elections, Khar was elected as a member of the National Assembly, representing the NA-177 (Muzaffargarh-II) constituency in Punjab. Her father, a veteran politician Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar, had represented the constituency previously, but he and most of the members of her family had been disqualified. A new law requiring all parliamentary candidates to hold a university degree meant that he and they could not run that year. With the financial support of her father who addressed rallies on her behalf, she campaigned on a newly founded PML-Q platform against the Pakistan Muslim League, with her face not appearing on her own election posters.
Khar came to prominence during the Shaukat Aziz government and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Economic Affairs and Statistics in 2003, and being named Minister of State for Economic Affairs the following year, a post she retained until 2007. As minister of state, she worked with international relief funds and charities after the deadly 2005 earthquake in Northern Pakistan and also worked on proposals for the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India pipeline.
In 2007, she made an unsuccessful attempt to renew her alliance with the PML-Q, but the party denied her a ticket platform to campaign for re-election in 2008. She was subsequently invited to join the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and successfully campaigned for her constituency for a second time. The PPP secured a plurality of the votes and formed a left-wing alliance with the Awami National Party, MQM and PML-Q.
After her 2008 re-election, she was appointed Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs in the cabinet of Yousaf Raza Gillani. She worked on the financial budget and economic policies in the absence of the then Finance Minister and on 13 June 2009 she successfully presented the 2010 federal budget in the Parliament and has the distinction of being the first woman politician to present the Pakistani budget in the National Assembly. She also worked on reducing Pakistan’s circular debt within the energy sector.
Khar was appointed as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs—the deputy head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—on 11 February 2011, as part of Gillani’s cabinet reshuffle. Gillani did not reappoint Shah Mehmood Qureshi as Foreign Minister, and that position was left empty. In the absence of any Foreign Minister, she was the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs for five months until her formal appointment as Foreign Minister on 18 July; she was sworn in on 19 July, becoming the youngest and first female Minister of Foreign Affairs.
President Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Pervez Musharraf in 2008, said the appointment was “a demonstration of the government’s commitment to bring women into the mainstream of national life”. She was appointed foreign minister during a difficult time in Pakistan: when the country’s armed forces were confronting extreme elements in Western Pakistan and anti-American emotions ran high over the Raymond Davis incident.
During her two-year-long appointment as the country’s foreign minister, she attracted significant global attention on her status as Pakistan’s first woman foreign minister. She was interviewed by Charlie Rose, CBS News, and Washington Post among others. She served as a high-ranking member of the Central Executive Committee of the Pakistan Peoples Party from 2008 until 2013, when she retired from politics.
Since standing down, Khar has been an active public speaker. In an interview with Al Jazeera in December 2015, she accused the US government of supporting military regimes in Pakistan.