Sherry Rehman: Standing Up to Extremists

As a journalist and politician, Sherry fought censorship, the oppression of minorities, and religious intolerance. Several times, she was labeled an apostate and a target for assassination. Meet Pakistan’s new ambassador to the U.S..               

It’s perhaps easy for Americans to be cynical about Pakistan right now.  After ten years hunting down al Qaeda, U.S. intelligence discovered the man most responsible for 3,000 American deaths living comfortably in one of Pakistan’s largest cities.  But Pakistan is a complex country — and although conspiracy, extremism, and deception is indeed rife, it has also produced a number of remarkable and courageous leaders.  Sherry Rehman is one: educated, sophisticated, competent, and sensible, the very model of what Pakistani founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah envisioned.

Rehman became a professional journalist and worked for over twenty years, and like many Pakistani journalists she performed her job in the face of harassment, arrest, and threat of assassination. She later joined Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and was a leading legislator for seven years, forwarding bills to reform Pakistan’s legal structure and protect women and minorities.  She also stayed at the forefront of protecting journalists through a Freedom of Information Bill and the Press Act.  In March 2008 she was appointed Minister for Information & Broadcasting– but a year later resigned her post after refusing to sanction continued restrictions on the media.

Rehman is no stranger to foreign policy, either.  She was responsible for the formulation and presentation of the October 2008 comprehensive briefing on National Security, leading to Pakistan’s Joint Resolution on Terrorism — the first national consensus on the issue of terrorism.  Rehman has testified to the U.S. Congressional Subcommittee on National Security, lectured extensively at international and domestic think tanks, and is founding Chair of the Jinnah Institute— a non-partisan think tank committed to the strengthening of democracy, governance and national security.  Foreign Policy magazine in its December 2011 edition identified Rehman as one of 2011′s Top Global Thinkers.

We wish Ambassador Rehman the best in her new position; may we both represent the best of our two nations to each other.

Read more about Ambassador Rehman and her profile on Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list.
Watch Rehman speak movingly about Benazir Bhutto in a recent press conference over her appointment.
Learn about Amb. Rehman’s work with the Jinnah Institute to protect freedom of speech, monitor extremism, and forward the Pakistani-Indian peace process.

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