New Pakistan FM says no need for cajoling on militancy

Reuters , Saturday 23 Jul 2011

Pakistan's first female ever foreign minister, who held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said the two countries shared the strategic objective of combating terror groups


Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's first female and youngest-ever foreign minister, told reporters on Saturday on the sidelines of an Asian security conference that she expected positive results from a meeting with her Indian counterpart next week, in what could be a major turning point in ties between the two countries since they resumed peace talks earlier this year.

Asked if Clinton prodded her on tackling militants operating from within Pakistan, Khar said: "We have the same strategic objective.

"Pakistan is the first one to suffer because of terrorism, because of militancy. Pakistan is doing it for itself. You don't need cajoling on that, that is in our national interest."

On her talks with Indian Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna scheduled for next Wednesday in New Delhi, Khar said: "My expectation is to have positive development in our relationship with India."

It has been a baptism by fire for Khar, who was appointed to the post just this week, after five months as junior foreign minister. Besides Clinton, she also met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the security forum in Indonesia.

The meeting with Krishna will put her at the forefront of a complex, mutually antagonistic and volatile relationship between two nuclear-armed powers.

Pakistan and India, which have fought three full-scale wars since independence in 1947, two over the disputed region of Kashmir, resumed a formal peace process in February, which was broken off after the November 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants that killed 166 people.

Bomb attacks in Mumbai earlier this month killed 18 people and injured over 130, but security forces have said local militant groups are the prime suspects.

Khar, 34, also said she was comfortable about being in a senior post at a young age in conservative Pakistan.

"Our culture reveres anyone who has the ability to work for the country and young or old does not make such a difference as much as what your approach is, what your goals are and as much as how you approach a problem," she said. 

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