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Bravo, Sherry Rehman!

The PPP’s Sherry Rehman is a woman who can. And presently, she is all set to assume the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; having secured the support of some 33 Upper House lawmakers. Twenty-seven endorsements in an opposition bench of 54 are needed for a clear run.
This is good news all round; but particularly for Pakistan’s media. For the former career journalist has always stood firm for press freedom. In 2008, she challenged the two constitutional ordinances that were introduced under the brief period of martial law the previous year; and which related to a ban on live news broadcasts involving suicide bombers and extremists as well as custodial sentences for journalists found ‘guilty’ of defaming or mocking the president.
And none of this was hot air. For back in 2009 Rehman famously resigned as the minister for Information and Broadcasting after then president, Asif Ali Zardari, took Geo TV off the air for its ‘critical’ coverage of his regime. The channel had given extensive airtime to the four-day Long March to Islamabad in which lawyers and civil society activists protested the government’s failure to reinstate the judges dismissed by the previous set-up; something that it had promised to do within 30 days after sweeping the general elections the year before.
That Bilawal Bhutto Zardari nominated Rehman for this latest position demonstrates maturity on the part of the PPP co-Chairman. Not to mention more than a touch of pragmatism. For Rehman embodies core party principles. Seen as a liberal, the PPP vice president has fought long and hard for women’s rights. Indeed, she submitted the following before the National Assembly: the Women Empowerment Bill, Anti-Honor Killings Bill, Domestic Violence Prevention Bill, Affirmative Action Bill and Hudood Repeal Bill.
Rehman is also a friend of Pakistan’s most vulnerable. She and the late Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti had co-authored a bill to amend the country’s draconian blasphemy laws following the incarceration of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi. Never being one afraid to speak out, Rehman went as far as accusing her own party of appeasement when it failed to introduce this legislation to the floor.



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