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Woman named Pakistan envoy to US

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Woman named Pakistan envoy to US

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan appointed a former information minister and human rights campaigner as its ambassador to the United States on Wednesday, moving quickly to fill a post left vacant after tension between the civilian government and military.
“The prime minister is pleased to appoint Sherry Rehman as the new ambassador to the United States,” said the spokesman for the prime minister’s office, Akram Shaheedi.
Rehman’s appointment was a surprise, with many analysts and media pundits expecting someone seen as closer to the military.
The former magazine editor, a veteran member of President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party and staunch proponent of civilian rule, is considered something of a liberal. She was close to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed by militants in 2007.
The diplomatic post is a crucial one for both nations. Washington wants to work with Pakistan to defeat al-Qaida and negotiate a way out of the Afghan war. Islamabad relies heavily on U.S. aid and diplomatic support.
Relations between the two countries have soured badly over the last year, specially over the Osama bin Laden raid, which the U.S. carried out without informing Pakistan in advance. Many American lawmakers are calling for an end to U.S. engagement with the nuclear-armed country.
Former ambassador Husain Haqqani resigned on Tuesday, days after a Pakistani-American businessman accused him of being behind a memo that said the military was plotting a coup and appealed to the Pentagon to help ward it off.
Haqqani denied any connection with the memo.
The controversy has thrown a spotlight on the fundamental tension in Pakistani politics since the nation was founded in 1947 — competition for power between civilian politicians and military commanders.
The military has ruled the nuclear-armed South Asian country for more than half its history.
Rehman, a former journalist, was information minister for Zardari after the restoration of civilian rule following a 2008 election.
She resigned in March 2009 over a crisis in which the government was refusing to reinstate judges sacked under the military regime of President Pervez Musharraf.
Rehman has been a strong advocate of women’s and minority rights and faced death threats for her calls to reform the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.

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