Glamorous 34-year old Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar has been credited with bringing Indo-Pak peace talks back on track.
The fashionable minister, spotted wearing Roberto Cavalli sunglasses and Jimmy Choo heels, and carrying a black Hermes Birkin bag, rounded off with diamonds and pearls, hogged headlines more for her wardrobe than her work. The media was quick to note the disconnect between Khar’s elite upbringing and Pakistan’s economic crisis.And that wasn’t the only issue she drew flak for. In a huge diplomatic misstep, Khar met with leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of separatist party leaders in Kashmir, instead of meeting with Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and before she met with Indian external affairs minister S. M. Krishna. The Hindu reports:
The Pakistan Foreign Office described the meetings as part of the Foreign Minister’s consultations with the Kashmiri leadership before her meeting with Mr. Krishna. Ms. Khar had met the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik in Lahore on Monday.
But the External Affairs Ministry termed the meetings a “bad idea,” though official sources said the meetings between Pakistani senior officials and Kashmiri separatist leaders on the eve of the India-Pakistan talks had acquired routine overtones.
“They are the caregivers for the Hurriyat,” admitted the sources and added, “they need to tell the Hurriyat to talk the language of peace, sanity and reconciliation. Goading the Hurriyat to espouse the cause they have been espousing will hardly help improve Indo-Pak ties or help resolve issues like Jammu & Kashmir.”
Unsurprisingly the talks focused on cooperating on counter terrorism and the rhetoric on Kashmir remained vague. At a joint press conference Krishna said (via Dawn):
He said on the Jammu and Kashmir issue, “we will continue discussions with a view to finding a peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences.
Meanwhile, for the welfare of the people on both sides of the LoC, we have announced additional measures on cross-LoC travel and trade”.
Khar also met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit.
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