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Anti-blasphemy law campaigner Sherry Rehman replaces Pakistan's US ambassador

France 24

Pakistan’s former information minister Sherry Rehman has been named ambassador to the US after the resignation of her predecessor in a scandal over a memo that asked for US help to prevent a feared military coup.

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Her predecessor Husain Haqqani resigned after returning to Pakistan because of the so-called “Memogate” scandal.

Rehman, an ex-journalist, rights campaigner and current head of the Pakistani Red Crescent, is an MP for President Asif Ali Zardari’s People’s Party (PPP) and was close to his murdered wife, Benazir Bhutto.

Rehman resigned her cabinet position in protest at government restrictions on the media and was for a time confined to her home in Karachi because of her opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws, which were used in a case against a Christian woman that hit headlines worldwide.

Her fellow campaigner, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was murdered by his bodyguard in January. Two months later in Islamabad, Pakistan’s minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was also killed.

 
Haqqani, who is close to Zardari, was accused by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijiaz of writing a memo asking for US help to prevent a military coup in return for an overhaul of Pakistan’s security leadership in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

 
Opposition politicians Muslim League (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif and Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) head Imran Khan, accuse Zardari of being behind the memo and are pushing for an early election.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Haqqani was asked to resign after what television channel Geo said was a meeting with Zardari, Gilani and military leaders, including intelligence chief Ahmad Shuja Pasha.

 

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