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Sherry Rehman

April 24, 2013

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Journalist, politician and now ambassador, Sherry Rehman, is among Pakistan’s liberal politicians. Hailing from a prominent Sindhi family, Rehman was born in Karachi on December 21, 1960. Rehman's father was a lawyer and her mother became the first female vice president of the State Bank of Pakistan. She was educated at the Karachi Grammar School and later at the University of Sussex. Rehman is married to banker Nadeem Hussain.

Serving Pakistan Peoples Party for a long time, Rehman was elected to the National Assembly in 2002 on a reserved seat for women. She again returned in 2008 as MNA on women’s reserved seats. As PPP and its allies formed a government at the centre, Rehman was appointed federal minister for information and broadcasting the same year. However, she resigned from the position in 2009.

Rehman is an open advocate of women’s rights and media freedom and is a fierce opponent of honour killings. She has also led several initiatives to formulate pro-women and pro-media legislation. In 2010, Rehman submitted a private member bill seeking to abolish death penalty under the existing blasphemy laws. The bill created an uproar among religious circles and brought her career to a standstill and with threats against her on the rise, Rehman was confined to her Karachi residence for some time.

Rehman was eventually appointed Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States after her predecessor Husain Haqqani resigned over the memo scandal. This year, she was awarded with Nishan-i-Imtiaz, the highest honour given to any civilian, for her performance as ambassador at a time when US-Pakistan relations were passing through a very difficult phase.

Rehman is also the founding head of Jinnah Institute, an independent public policy institute committed to regional peace and inclusive democracy in Pakistan. The institute arranged several track-two strategic dialogues with India and convened a similar institutionalised dialogue process between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

— Research and text by Saher Baloch