Lead­ing the Change

Sal­man Khur­shid is In­dia’s first Mus­lim Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter in six­teen years. Will this mon­u­men­tal change usher in a deeper Indo-pak re­la­tion­ship?

Southasia - - Front page - By Huza­ima Bukhari & Dr. Ikra­mul Haq

The new In­dian Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Sal­man Khur­shid - also the first Mus­lim to hold this po­si­tion in six­teen years - faces many chal­lenges at home and abroad. Com­mu­nal bi­ases and re­li­gious orthodoxy are still preva­lent in the world’s largest democ­racy of the world and pose a se­ri­ous threat to the veteran leader. Mr. Khur­shid has faced crit­i­cism from the Mus­lim com­mu­nity, lib­er­als and Hindu ex­trem­ists alike. De­spite all odds against him, he has held numer­ous min­is­te­rial po­si­tions span­ning cor­po­rate af­fairs, mi­nor­ity af­fairs, water re­sources and law and jus­tice. The ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry is not new to him, hav­ing served as min­is­ter of state [1993-1996] dur­ing P. V Narasimha Rao’s government, when the “Look East” pol­icy was for­mu­lated.

As Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Khur­shid’s main pri­or­ity will un­doubt­edly be to se­cure eco­nomic, en­ergy and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests in South­east and East Asia. A nor­mal­iza­tion of re­la­tions with Pak­istan, in­flu­ence in Afghanistan

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