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Clinton welcomes Sherry Rahman as Pak ambassador to US

January 12, 2012 09:09 IST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has welcomed Pakistan's ambassador designate to the United States Sherry Rehman as they held their first meeting and discussed various bilateral issues.

"The Secretary (of State) was pleased to welcome Pakistan's appointed ambassador, Sherry Rehman, to Washington. They discussed the importance of our two countries recommitting to working together on areas of common interest," US State Department spokesperson Laura Lucas told PTI.

"The Department looks forward to further interactions with the appointed ambassador after she presents her credentials at the White House," Lucas said after the Clinton-Rahman meeting at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Rehman, whose appointment comes at a time when Pakistan-US relations are at an all-time low, is expected to present her credential to US President Barack Obama on January 18.

On Tuesday, Rehman met the Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman. She also presented her ambassadorial credentials to the State Department's Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

A confidant of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, she replaces Husain Haqqani, who had to resign following the revelation of the "memogate" scandal. This will be the first time that the two top diplomats from India and Pakistan to the US are women. Nirupama Rao is the Indian ambassador to the US.   

Earlier in the day, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that the issue of Haqqani might come up during the meeting. "I would guess that she (Clinton) probably will make some of the same points that you've heard us make here, that we expect him to be treated in a manner that is consistent with the Pakistani constitution, with international standards of jurisprudence. She may also make clear we expect him to be safe and secure during this process," Nuland said.

Rehman, who has served as federal minister for information and broadcasting in Pakistan (2008-09) and a ranking member of the National Security Committee in the Parliament, will be going to embassy on Monday and would pay courtesy call to the US State Department officials during the week.

Born in Karachi to a prominent Sindhi family, Rehman is 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-chairs several track-two strategic dialogues with India, and is convener of a similar institutionalized dialogue process between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Also an award-winning journalist from Pakistan with 20 years of experience in both the broadcast and the print media, Rehman is former editor of the Herald newsmagazine based in Pakistan, she studied art history and politics at the Smith College, US, and the University of Sussex, Britain.

In her capacity as a senior journalist, Rehman has been the first Pakistani media person to be recognised by the United Kingdom House of Lords for independent journalism at the Annual British Muslim Ceremony in 2002.

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.

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 bills include the removal of colonial press laws in Pakistan, as well as legislation on domestic violence and affirmative action for women. As a 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, she has also served as the president of central policy planning for three terms, and the central information secretary of the Pakistan People's Party for two terms.

In 2009, Rehman was awarded the title of 'Democracy's Hero' 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 Jeanne Kirkpatric Award for Women in 2011.

Rehman's book on Five Hundred Years of The Kashmiri Shawl, has been published in 2006 by Mapin India and Antique Collectors Club, UK. It has won an award in 2007 from the Textile Society of America.

Before becoming Pakistan's ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman was a member of parliament from the Pakistan People's Party.
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