Sherry Rehman is a Pakistani politician and former diplomat who has been a member of the Senate of Pakistan since 2015. She was the first woman Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from March 2018 to August 2018 and served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States from 2011 to 2013.
Born as Sherbano Rehman on 21 December 1960, in Karachi to Hassanally A. Rahman. Her mother served as the first vice president of the State Bank of Pakistan. Rehman attended the Karachi Grammar School receiving her A level from there, she moved to the United States where she studied at the Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she received her B.A in political science in 1985. She moved to the United Kingdom, where she received an M.A in art history from the University of Sussex. She served as the chairperson of the Jinnah Institute which she founded.
Rehman started her professional career as a journalist with The Daily Star and then joined The Herald became its editor-in-chief at the age of 26, serving until 1998. After leaving Herald in 1998, she co-authored the book The Kashmiri Shawl: From Jamawar to Paisley. She worked as a professional journalist for 20 years and served as a member of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors from 1988 to 1998. Rehman hosted a television current affairs show in 1999. She has also worked for the Pakistan Red Crescent Society as chairperson.
She was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan for the first time as a candidate for PPP on a reserved seat for women in the 2002 Pakistani general election where she remained until 2007. During her tenure as Member of the National Assembly, she remained Central Information Secretary of PPP, President of Policy Planning for the PPP and remained a part of the party’s Foreign Relations Committee.
Rehman was re-elected to the National Assembly as a candidate for PPP on the reserved seat for women from Sindh in the 2008 Pakistani general election. During her second tenure as Member of the National Assembly, she authored several legislations which were tabled in the National Assembly.
In March 2008, she was inducted into the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and was appointed as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting. She was given the additional ministerial portfolio of Health in April 2008, Women Development and Culture in May 2008. She remained Minister for Culture until August 2008. In November 2008, she relinquished portfolios of Health and Women Development.
Rehman resigned her post as Information Minister in March 2009 in protest over a government attempt to put restrictions on press freedom.
In November 2011, Rehman was named Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States following the resignation of Hussain Haqqani, who was asked to resign by Prime Minister Gilani in the wake of the “Memogate” scandal. She quit the office of Pakistan’s ambassador in the US on May 2013.
In June 2015, she was elected to the Senate of Pakistan for the first time as a candidate of PPP on a general seat from Sindh and replaced Abdul Latif Ansari.
In March 2018, she was elected as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and became the first female in Pakistan to hold the office. She served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate till August 2018.
In 2010, she tabled a bill seeking to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy, as a result, she was placed under police surveillance after receiving death threats. Rehman was accused of committing “blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty” in Pakistan” in connection with a 2010 TV talk show.” Her accusers went to the Pakistan “Supreme Court with his complaint after police refused to register it. The court ordered police in the central Pakistani city of Multan to investigate.
Awards and recognition
- In 2002, she became first Pakistani to be recognized with an award for independent journalism by the UK House of Lords in its Muslim World Awards Ceremony.
- In January 2009, a report of the International Republican Institute referred to her as “Democracy’s Hero” as a result of her struggle for the cause of democracy in Pakistan. In the same month, Rehman was named among the “100 Most Influential Asians” by UAE magazine Ahlan.
- In 2012, she received the Smith College Medal for her ‘extraordinary achievements and outstanding service’ to Pakistan.
- In 2006, she received R.L Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award, for The Kashmiri Shawl.
- In 2008, she was presented the International Peace Award for Democrats by the Human Rights Commission.
- She also won the International Human Rights Commission Award for her work for human rights and peace.
- In 2009, she was given the title of “Democracy’s Hero” by the International Republican Institute.
- In 2009, she received ‘The Freedom Award’ Pakistan by the Association of Television Journalists.
- In 2011, she received the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award by The Women’s Democracy Network, Washington
- In 2013, she received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honor by the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari.