ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in an obvious tilt towards the presidency opted to slip from the Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s entourage at the eleventh hour who left for Laos capital Vientiane Sunday morning to address 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and having meetings with the world leaders.
Foreign Secretary Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani who had returned from Beijing about 24 hours earlier had to accompany the prime minister. The foreign minister will proceed to Doha with President Zardari on bilateral trip of Qatar.
The foreign minister’s staying away from an international forum where thirty-four heads of states and governments, including Russian, Bangladesh and Cambodian prime ministers, and Indonesian president were in attendance is unexplainable.
Her new Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid has also arrived in Vientiane to represent India in the ASEM and she may have interaction with him in Laos’s capital but she changed her direction suddenly and decided to ignore the opportunity.
ASEM is the first such an international gathering which Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as Prime Minister is attending and no minister of his cabinet is alongside him there.
Well placed diplomatic sources told The News that the Foreign Office had been giving full heed to the presidential palace while the PM House was ignored.
The foreign minister is keen to woo the presidency due to the known reasons. She understands that presidency will call the shots when the chips are down with regard to electioneering and distribution of the tickets of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
She feels safe in the presidential protection instead of having inclination towards the PM House. Had she gone to Laos, it wouldn’t possible for her to join the presidential delegation after returning from Vientiane, the sources said.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz had to pay bilateral visit of Kuwait early this month without his Foreign Minister and he had to rely upon Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Ammad Khan.
Hina was contender for the exalted office after Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in June last but lady luck couldn’t smile upon her and she had to continue as Foreign Minister. She hardly misses any foreign visit of the president while the prime minister is being continually ignored by her in such trips.
When contacted, Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmad Khan simply expressed his unawareness about the episode and said it was between the president and prime minister as they decide with mutual consultations that to whom the foreign minister would accompany. He said the decision about the foreign minister’s inclusion in presidential or prime ministerial delegation is made in accordance with the importance of the foreign visit.