Profile: Sherry Rehman, from journalist to ambassador

Published: November 23, 2011

Sherry Rehman has been appointed as the new ambassador to the US, barely a day after Husain Haqqani resigned from his post. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

Sherry Rehman has been appointed as the new ambassador to the US, barely a day after Husain Haqqani resigned from his post.

Rehman, the chairperson of the Jinnah Institute, is a former journalist and author. She will be 51 this December and studied at Smith College.

She started her career as a reporter for the daily Star newspaper and then moved on to the monthly magazine Herald, where she was – at the age of 26 – the group’s youngest editor.

Rehman left Herald in 1998 and co-authored the book The Kashmiri Shawl: From Jamawar to Paisley.

She was elected to the National Assembly twice, in 2002 and 2007, on reserved seats for women. In 2008-2009, she declared assets of Rs210 million.

As a legislator, Rehman highlighted human rights issues as well as played an instrumental role in passing key legislation related to women’s rights.

Rehman worked closely with the late PPP chairperson and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and headed the PPP’s policy planning committee that developed the party’s manifesto for the 2008 elections.

After the PPP came to power, Rehman, was named Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and had the additional portfolios of Health, Women Development and Culture.

According to a leaked US Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, in a February 8, 2008 meeting with then US Ambassador Anne Patterson, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari said he was ‘struggling’ over who would be named Senate chairman. When he said the best candidate would be Farooq Naek, Zardari was asked who would be law minister. “That’s the problem,” he replied, “We don’t have enough good people.”  According to Zardari, Sherry Rehman “was dying for the job,” but Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam would never vote for a woman as Senate Chairman.

She resigned from her position in March 2009 over the government’s handling of the media, and won kudos from the press for taking a stance on the issue. Rehman was then replaced as the Pakistan Peoples Party’s information secretary.

After her resignation as minister, Rehman focused her attention to the Jinnah Institute, “a non-profit public policy organization based in Pakistan, which works as a non-partisan think-tank, advocacy group and public outreach institution.”

In late 2010, Rehman’s life was threatened since she submitted a private member bill suggesting amendments to the blasphemy law. Rehman was criticized by speakers at large-scale rallies and kept a low profile in the ensuing months, particularly after the assassinations of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and the Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Saleem
    Nov 23, 2011 - 3:08PM

    So finally they found a job for her where she is not constantly harassed by mullah brigade. Best thing about current govt is that they do not look at job and its requirements but rather they look at person ( translate jayalas ) and where can we fit them. When other countries put there best foot forward but getting people with expansive experience in diplomatic affairs for important countries, we can only find likes of haqqani and sherry rehman for this important job.

    Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Nov 23, 2011 - 3:54PM

    She is not a good choice for ambassadorship..

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  • imran aziz
    Nov 23, 2011 - 4:56PM

    “but Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam would never vote for a woman as Senate Chairman.”

    Very sad to read that our leaders still make decisions based on blackmail by the religious fanatics.There was no need to discriminate against sherry because of her gender.Enough already with the misogyny in pakistani society.

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  • Rehan
    Nov 23, 2011 - 5:23PM

    Fair enough. Now I really started to understand, why Pakistan does not appear to be a successful nation to rest of the world? Problem entirely lies with the system as whole, which needs being replaced with practical steps and implementations. I believe we (Pakistanis) are good in drafting laws, drafting and finalizing long term planning documents at all levels but what missing is the implementation. Unfortunately, our so called political leaders try exploiting the flaws in system no matter how sensitive and important role do they have in the system. System and nation does not seem to learn lessons from their previous experiences instead same people are given chances over and over again.

    I’m not against democratic process and democratic government neither in favour of military dictatorship, but for some reason it seems our political leaders have no self-respect, dignity and care for the country. If people like Zardari can become president of a country, one should believe there are serious problems with the system that should be dealt with at top most priority.

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  • Hakeem
    Nov 23, 2011 - 5:45PM

    She might be acceptable for the US not the Pakistani nation!

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  • Khalid
    Nov 23, 2011 - 5:46PM

    Lets see if she can bear the pressure and looks after the fellow country persons matters in the US.

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  • Riaz
    Nov 23, 2011 - 6:01PM

    Sherry is probably the only person left in PPP who is not corrupt and can put together two sentences of English language without consulting moulvi Fazal :-).
    She has a conscious, integrity and humanity which clearly are in short supply in political circles of Pakistan especially PPP and the former ambassador like his boss didn’t carry those kind of burdens gladly. PPP couldn’t do any better.

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  • Imran
    Nov 23, 2011 - 6:30PM

    How quickly she has been appointed as Ambassador to US as it hardly one day of the removal of HH, while on the other hand decisions were taken after months for very important bureaucrats, Governor State Bank and NAB Chairman are examples. Recommend

  • Sharjeel Malik
    Nov 23, 2011 - 6:59PM

    This appointment demonstrates pure nepotism and favoritism.This show that it’s not what you know but who you know.Recommend

  • Lawangin
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:03PM

    Sherry has to bridge the gap of mistrust and typical Pakistani conspiracy theory mindset and the US agenda in the region. at this point of time, her selection is a so so decision. lets how how she can work to build the bridge between the Military establishment and the bankrupt government of PPP. She has to be very cautious, compare to Mr. Haqqani, who could not control his Between Military and Mosque critique.

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  • Sh
    Nov 23, 2011 - 8:41PM

    Excellent choice

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  • F.B.Butt
    Nov 23, 2011 - 9:05PM

    One journalist is replacing another journalist.

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  • Nasir Ahmad
    Nov 24, 2011 - 3:35AM

    She is the most intelligent, most intellectual and most articulate political
    person in Pakistan…a woman of impeccable credentials, thoroughly honest,
    and will represent Pakistan in the most favourable light…the Americans
    need to deal with an envoy who understands their political system and will
    get respect and admiration in dealing with complex and difficult problems between
    the two countries.
    We ,Pakistani Americans, must tell our own congress and senate representatives that
    the future of Pakistan rests on strengthening the current democratic process, however
    unpalatable it may be to some.
    ( Yes, the worst form of democracy is better than ANY DICTATORSHIP …go ask
    the Arabs !! )

    Recommend

  • dr kadar khan
    Nov 24, 2011 - 3:49AM

    This urgent promotion of Sherry has obviously been vetted and stronfly promoted by the Indo-US-Israeli nexus rather than the millitary brass.
    Do I see a conspiracy in this? No, its the civvys are calling the shot now (I hope).

    Many thanks.

    Recommend

  • mohammedali
    Nov 26, 2011 - 11:50PM

    Mam SHerry Rahman so Intelegent. im very happy Mam SHerryRahman has Apponted Ambassador of USA .GOD BLESS HER.

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  • Nov 27, 2011 - 5:38PM

    @dr kadar khan:
    God moves in strange ways. You could be right.

    However, can you provide any proof to support your claim?Recommend

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