Dubai: Former Pakistan Information Minister Senator Sherry Rehman was elected on Thursday as the first woman leader of the opposition in the Senate — the Upper House of the Parliament.
“It is the victory of Benazir Bhutto’s vision which sought to empower women across the world,” Rehman told Gulf News from Islamabad after her election to lead opposition parties in the senate.
She said she would work more for women’s causes as ‘Pakistan’s women were never silent, they were just not heard.’
“I look forward to working with all senators in the opposition to represent the interests of the federation,” she said.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Zardari took to Twitter earlier to express hope that the party vice-president would make history by becoming the first woman to lead the opposition in the Senate.
“I would like to thank my party leadership and other allies in the Opposition who reposed confidence in me as Leader of the Opposition at a key moment in the democratic journey in Pakistan,” she said.
Rehman, 57, also tweeted: “Congratulations to everyone! The PPP wants everyone to work in unison to ensure the Senate continues to deliver.”
PPP, after getting its candidates, Sadiq Sanjrani and Saleem Mandviwalla elected as Senate chairman and deputy chairman respectively has now occupied the office of the opposition leader with the support of 34 members. Rehman is the PPP’s seventh opposition leader in the Senate.
PPP had started lobbying for Senator Rehman after party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari nominated her for the position.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan who supported PPP in elected the PPP candidate Sanjrani as Chairman of the Senate, opposed this move but failed to stop Rehman from become the Leader of Opposition.
Earlier, the late Chairperson of the PPP Benazir Bhutto had served as leader of the opposition in the National Assembly during the two previous PML-N governments in the 1990s. Bhutto was also the first female Prime Minister of any Islamic country in 1988.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday had challenged the PPP’s move to nominate Senator Rehman for the opposition leader’s position in the upper house of the parliament.
In a letter to Senate Chairman Sanjrani, PTI Senator Azam Khan Swati — himself a nominee for the seat — had contended that the list of members supporting Senator Rehman for the slot of opposition leader contravened the rules and procedures of the house, according to Dawnonline.
The party had accelerated its efforts to thwart the PPP move and met with representatives of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), senators from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) as well as the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) to seek their support.
Shahrbano Rehman, commonly known as Sherry Rehman, was born on December 21, 1960 in Karachi. She was educated at Smith College and later at the University of Sussex where she studied Art History and Political Science.
A senior figure in the PPP, Rehman served as the editor of popular English magazine Herald for over a decade before making a foray into politics. She was elected to the national assembly in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008, and served as the federal minister for information and broadcasting.
She also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US from 2011-2013 and was elected to the Senate in 2015.
— With inputs from agencies