Amb. Sherry Rehman
Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States
Pakistan and the United States: Changing the Narrative
About the Topic
About the Speaker
Sherry Rehman was appointed as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States in November 2011. To assume her current post in Washington, Rehman stepped down from her new post as Federal Minister, and Chairperson of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society as well as Ranking Member of the National Security Committee in Pakistan’s Parliament. She has served as Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pakistan (2008-09) and earlier also held three additional portfolios of Health, Women Development and Culture as Federal Minister, in 2008. During her time in Parliament, her areas of focus included foreign and security policy, human rights legislation, and media.
Sherry Rehman was the founding Chair of the Jinnah Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank committed to the strengthening of democracy, governance and an independent national security project in Pakistan. One of its main priorities is re-gaining space for moderate voices in the context of an extremist advance. She co-chaired several track-two strategic dialogues with India, and was convener of a similar institutionalized dialogue process between Pakistan and Afghanistan. She lectures widely on strategic security challenges facing Pakistan, and was a key member of the Legislative Councils that govern both Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Sherry Rehman also served as Chairperson of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.
Rehman is also an award-winning journalist from Pakistan with 20 years of experience in both the broadcast and the print media. Former editor of the “Herald” newsmagazine based in Pakistan, she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, USA, where she studied Government and Art History. In her capacity as a senior journalist, Rehman was the first Pakistani media person to be recognized by the UK House of Lords for independent journalism at the Annual British Muslim Ceremony in 2002.
As Federal Minister and on behalf of the democratic government led by the PPP, Rehman made history by preparing and delivering a comprehensive briefing on National Security to an on camera joint-session of Pakistan’s Parliament in October 2008. The briefing led to the adoption of the Joint Resolution on Terrorism, the first ever official consensus by public representatives on the issue of terrorism in the country.
Sherry Rehman is also the architect of the first parliamentary charter and bill for women empowerment, mover of the Hudood Ordinances Repeal Bill, mover of the Anti-Honour Killings Bill, as well as the Freedom of Information Act 2004. Her other bills include the removal of colonial press laws in Pakistan, as well as legislation on Domestic Violence and Affirmative Action for women. As Minister, she moved the first government bill of the 2008 National Assembly for the repeal of martial law-led anti-media clauses in the Electronic Media Regulatory Ordinance. In August 2008, Rehman’s move to repeal similar amendments in the Print and Publication Ordinance paved the way for constitutional protection for the print media (RTI bill).
As a political activist, Sherry Rehman has also served as President of Central Policy Planning for three terms, and the Central Information Secretary of the Pakistan Peoples Party for two terms.
Sherry Rehman was recently awarded the title of ‘Democracy’s Hero’ (2009), by the International Republican Institute, for her services for democracy. She was also presented ‘The Freedom Award’ Pakistan in 2009 by the Association of Television Journalists for her work for media independence in Pakistan. In 2008, she was presented the International Peace Award for Democrats by the International Human Rights Commission. Her most recent award is the Jeanne Kirkpatric Award for Women in 2011. The March 2011 issue of Newsweek Pakistan ranked her on its cover as “Pakistan’s Most Important Woman.” Foreign Policy magazine has identified Rehman as one of 2011’s Top Global Thinkers.
In civil society, Sherry Rehman has been an active proponent for the provision of better access to health and educational resources, particularly for women and children from the lower-income sections of Pakistani society. In this respect, Rehman is Chair of the Lady Dufferin Foundation Trust, the largest non-profit provider of women and children’s subsidized healthcare in the province of Sindh. In her seven-year term as Chair, Rehman has spearheaded the construction of a state-of the art seven-story hospital building at the 100-year old Dufferin Hospital. She has also served on the board of several educational institutions, namely the Sindh University and the International School in Karachi as well as the Mohatta Palace Gallery Trust. Rehman is also one of the founding members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and on the Syndicate of the Quaid-e-Azam University.
Sherry Rehman’s book on ‘Five Hundred Years of The Kashmiri Shawl’ has been published in 2006 by Mapin India and Antique Collectors Club, UK. That same year, it was awarded the prestigious R. L. Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award from the Textile Society of America.
Before her designation as Pakistan’s Ambassador to United States Sherry Rehman was Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Pakistan from the Pakistan Peoples Party for her second term.