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Sherry Rehman - profile

November 23, 2011

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Pakistan has appointed Sherry Rehman as new ambassador to the United States on Wednesday Nov. 23, 2011. - AP (File Photo)

Shahrbano Rehman, better known as Sherry Rehman, was born on 21st December 1960 in Karachi. She was educated at Smith College and later at the University of Sussex where she studied Art History and Political Science.

Rehman practiced as a professional journalist for 20 years, writing for national and international publications. She worked as Editor-in-Chief of Pakistan’s leading newsmagazine, The Herald (Pakistan) for 10 years and served as a member of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) from 1988-1998.

She served as a Member of National Assembly (MNA) from 2002 to 2007 as the Central Information Secretary. During this time, she was also President of Policy Planning for the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians and served on the Foreign Relations Committee of the party.

In March 2008, Sherry Rehman was re-elected as an MNA from the Sindh province on the list of reserved seats for women.

During her tenure in parliament, Sherry Rehman authored all five PPP bills tabled in the National Assembly: Women Empowerment Bill, Anti-Honor Killings Bill, Domestic Violence Prevention Bill, Affirmative Action Bill and Hudood Repeal Bill.

She also moved two bills for the media – the Freedom of Information Bill and the Press Act, which prevents journalists on duty from being arrested under the 1999 Press Ordinance.

In January 2009, she was hailed “Democracy’s Hero” in a report of the International Republican Institute as a result of her close association with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s campaign for democratic rule in Pakistan. However, the reference received mixed coverage in Pakistan.

In the same year, Rehman was also named among the “100 Most Influential Asians” by UAE magazine, Ahlan.

Today, she is founding chairman of the Jinnah Institute, a think tank closely aligned to the army’s national security objectives than her predecessor as ambassador, Husain Haqqani, who is deeply distrusted by the generals.

Rehman resigned as Federal Information Minister in 2009, due to differences of opinion with President Asif Ali Zardari on imposing restrictions on the media.

For a time, she was confined to her home in Karachi, her security threatened, and she criticised the government’s refusal to adopt law reforms.

Her fellow campaigner, PPP politician Salman Taseer, was murdered by his bodyguard in January. Two months later, Pakistan’s minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed in Islamabad.

Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan director of US-based rights group Human Rights Watch, welcomed Rehman’s appointment and called it the “most viable, face-saving formula for all concerned”.

“She is a woman, a democrat, she is a devout liberal who has taken very brave positions in Pakistan on very contentious issues,” he told AFP.

“But she is likely to be a far less threatening figure to the Pakistani military because she has greater empathy, if not sympathy, with the army’s national security considerations,” he added.

On 23rd November 2011, Sherry Rehman was appointed Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States. This appointment comes 12 hours after Husain Haqqani was asked to resign by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the wake of the Memogate scandal.