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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Bilawal takes oath to become youngest FM of Pakistan

Previously Bilawal was reluctant to join the cabinet giving rise to speculations of a rift between the united opposition. However, according to sources privy to the matter, Bilawal had refused to take up a position within the federal cabinet before the inclusion of the members of other coalition partners

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman and the grandson of the founder of the party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, took oath to become the 37th foreign minister of Pakistan. The oath taking ceremony was televised on several media platforms and saw the President, who had previously refused to administer the oaths of the PM Sharif and his cabinet, administer his oath. Earlier, just as the news of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari becoming the foreign minister was confirmed, Bakhtawar Bhutto in a Twitter post expressed her delight and said that she “couldn’t be more proud of him.” As Bilawal Bhutto took the oath today, he became the country’s youngest-ever foreign minister, following the footsteps of his grandfather, who served as the foreign minister from 1963 to 1966 and then from 1971 to 1977. 

Controversy around oath-taking

Previously Bilawal was reluctant to join the cabinet giving rise to speculations of a rift between the united opposition. However, according to sources privy to the matter, Bilawal had refused to take up a position within the federal cabinet before the inclusion of the members of other coalition partners, including Mohsin Dawar, in the first phase of the induction. Separately, many senior members within the party suggested that Bilawal should only hold the portfolio with Hina Rabbani Khar – former foreign Minister of Pakistan – as his deputy. 

PM Sharif had planned to induct the cabinet in two phases. And after the first stint, the chances of Bilawal taking up a position in the cabinet looked grim. However, reports of him agreeing to join the cabinet surfaced after he held a meeting with the deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London.

Bilawal announced the decision to take up the position as a federal minister yesterday however did not specify in what capacity he would be joining the cabinet. Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), Bilawal said that the party had decided that “tomorrow I will take an oath [as a federal minister] and become part of the unity government myself.”

Read more: WATCH: Hina Rabbani Khar’s ‘Not in the Room’ goes viral on Twitter

Bukhtawar Bhutto confirmed the reports and added that he would be joining as the foreign minister, with Hina Rabbani Khar serving as the state minister for foreign affairs.

Khar as FM

Khar was appointed as the state minister for foreign affairs and took up the charge on 19 April. Khar served in arguably the toughest stint of Pakistan’s foreign relations. In her time as the foreign minister, she dealt with drone bombings – which ramped up during the time of the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party, U.S. operation in Abottabad which led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and the attack on Pakistani check post by NATO-led forces – Salala incident.

Currently, the state minister for foreign affairs has been taking opprobrium for her comments which she made in an interview with Al-Jazeera in 2016. She was asked about the credibility of the secret memos by the CIA claiming that former President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani supported the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan in private, to which she responded that no such statement had been in front of her, if indeed he did say it, she must’ve not been in the room. Since then, her statement ‘not in the room’ has become one of the top trends on Twitter.

Read more: Bilawal begged Nawaz for 10 NA seats: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Serving alongside Khar, Bilawal is faced with the monumental task of restoring ties with the U.S., which were strained after the recent controversy of the alleged American involvement in ousting Imran Khan from power.