Shah Mehmood Qureshi set to be foreign minister once again

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News Analysis |

Pakistan’s latest general elections on 25th of July, 2018 have been a first in many ways. Apart from a new party coming to power for the first time, PTI managed to bag majorities in three out of four provincial assemblies and even in the National Assembly. Apart from public trust, a lot maneuvering was needed especially in the Punjab province to win over various independent candidates whose numbers were also unprecedented Pakistan’s elections.

Unsurprisingly, sensing this clean sweep various candidates had joined PTI from other parties prior to the elections. Shah Mehmood Qureshi of PTI is no such exception, who started his career with PML-N only to alter join PPP for which he was awarded the position of Foreign Minister between 2008 and 2011.  In the current elections, however, Qureshi lost his Punjab assembly seat at the hands of an independent candidate; Salman Naeem. Naeem was initially going to contest on a PTI ticket but was dismissed by Mr. Qureshi himself. As Vice-President of PTI, Qureshi had expressed intention for snagging the coveted Chief Minister of Punjab slot but due to Mr. Naeem’s success, his ambitions were compromised.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s family has familial claims to the revered Bahauddin Zakariyya’s shrine in Multan. An icon of diversity, religious tolerance, and harmony, this connection will be highly important among the far-flung areas which are subject to this threat.

According to recent reports, Mehmood Qureshi will probably be looking forward to another stint as foreign minister. He holds a prominent place in Imran Khan’s cabinet alongside such figures as Asad Umar; potential future Finance Minster, Shirin Mazari; possibly next Defense minister and Arif Alvi; future National Assembly Speaker. Owing to his past experience, this post would be most fitting.

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A lot of vitriol Imran Khan received was due to his inexperience as a politician and thus could not be trusted to lead a country. Yet, with seasoned politicians such as Mr. Qureshi by his side such criticism are expected to be left behind in the dust of “tabdeeli” [change]. After abandoning the Pakistan people’s party in 2011, Qureshi was relieved of his post as Foreign Minister. He nonetheless joined PTI the same year, inspiring various other leading politicians to follow suit.

During his last tenure as Foreign Minister, Qureshi had to deal with various burdensome international events such as the Mumbai Attacks of 2008 which placed Pakistan in a difficult position. Shah Mehmood managed to preserve Pakistan’s reputation and presented a solid defense to India’s provocations to war by expressing the need to avoid war but communicating Pakistan’s preparedness if it comes to it. Pak-India relations are again becoming strained as India leans to the far right under Prime Minister Modi. Many are of the opinion that Shah Mehmood’s astute political capabilities would be indispensable in the foreign policy challenges that the nation is bound to face in the coming years.

 Shah Mehmood Qureshi of PTI is no such exception, who started his career with PML-N only to alter join PPP for which he was awarded the position of Foreign Minister between 2008 and 2011.

Qureshi’s ability to communicate on matters of regional, financial and diplomatic interest through his pluralistic approach will be much needed against the right-wing Islamic extremist threat. Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s family has familial claims to the revered Bahauddin Zakariyya’s shrine in Multan. An icon of diversity, religious tolerance, and harmony, this connection will be highly important among the far-flung areas which are subject to this threat.

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A lot more remains to be seen in the role he will come to play as the PTI regime will come under sustained attack from the entrenched opposition as well as the outside. Populist and conservative elements within the PML-N and TLP opposition parties will be active during the coming 5 years.

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