PAKISTAN: Sherry Rehman Appointed Pakistan Ambassador to Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The Guardian
Southern Asia

Sherry Rehman, who has received death threats after campaigning to reform Pakistan's blasphemy laws, has been appointed as the country's ambassador to Washington.
The appointment was announced a day after her predecessor was ousted at the apparent behest of Pakistan's powerful military.

Rehman, a human rights campaigner and former journalist who represents the ruling Pakistan People's party, will replace Husain Haqqani. Haqqani was accused of crafting an offer from the government to the US administration to rein in the Pakistani military and spy agencies in return for US support against a feared coup.

Rehman's stance on national issues is much less likely to trouble Pakistan's military establishment, which had been angered when Haqqani wrote a book about links between Pakistan's army and jihadist groups.

Cyril Almeida, a newspaper columnist, said Rehman's relationship with the military was "perhaps not friendly" but that there was "no overt animosity either".

The military jealously guards its near monopoly over foreign and national security policies, making it deeply suspicious of the direct access Haqqani had to the top levels of the US government.

Rehman lives under police protection after receiving death threats over an unsuccessful bill she introduced to parliament to reform the country's blasphemy laws. Earlier this year, two other politicians with the Pakistan People's party were shot dead by extremists over the same issue.

For a year, she served as the information minister before quitting in 2009 over differences with the president, Asif Ali Zardari, about media restrictions.

Saeed Shah