USA: Sherry Rehman gets woman of the year award by Pakistani community

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, on Friday made a stirring call for unity in the ranks of Pakistani community member here to help meet the challenges their homeland faces.

The top Pakistani diplomat made the call at a largely-attended dinner event organized by the Pakistan League of USA, a non-political body of professionals, at which she was honoured with the League’s “Woman of the Year” award. Over 400 Pakistani-Americans from various walks of life attended the event marking the Independence Day and Eid-ul-fitre.

“I thank you … I’m deeply honoured,” Ambassador Rehman said, holding up the plaque as loud applause rang out in the banquet hall of a local hotel. A citation described Ambassador Rehman as a “great parliamentarian, writer and a diplomat”. Ambassador Rehman, who has been in the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights, dedicated her award to the women of Pakistan, especially her mother and Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

Also honoured with the League’s 2012 lifetime achievement award was Amir Khan, a British professional boxer of Pakistani origin who is a former two-time world champion and former unified WBA (Super) and IBF Light Welterweight champion. The ex-champion was given a standing ovation.

The league president, Zafar Iqbal Sipra, welcomed the ambassador and other guests, which included PML-N MNA Rana Tanveer, and briefed them on the aims and objects of the organization while Chairman Shahid Gondal stressed that it was non-political body.   The proceedings were conducted by Shafiq Siddiqui, general secretary of the league. Sipra and other speakers also praised the efficient services being provided to the community members by the Pakistani Consulate in New York under the leadership of Consul General Fakir Asif Hussain, who was also present at the dinner.

In her keynote speech, Ambassador Rehman called on the community members to sink their differences and work unitedly to promote the interest of their homeland in the United States and in forging good relations between people of America and Pakistan.

She also urged them to take an active part in the American politics in this election season and “multiply your power and influence” here, and become game-changers. “You have to overcome your differences .. and you have to have a dream,” the Pakistani envoy added.

In this context, Ambassador Rehman encouraged the community to be proactive and engage widely with American public officials, including members of Congress, Senators and local politicians in order to clear misperceptions that exist about Pakistan in the minds of Americans.

As a front-line state fighting terrorism and extremism, 43,000 Pakistanis had lost their lives and the country suffered over $78 billion in lost opportunities and infrastructure damages.

About the situation in Pakistan, she said a great transformation was taking place as the country was marking the first-ever peaceful democratic transition.

“It is the first time that a civilian elected government had completed its term,” she said, adding that the country’s media was playing a dynamic role.

She also said that the current Parliament had passed more laws to protect and promote women’s rights that any legislature in the past. The Ambassador also elaborated on the outreach programme of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington aimed at keeping the community informed of developments in Pakistan and Pakistan-US relations and invited suggestions from the community on how to improve services.

Among the other award winner at the event was Masood Haider of Dawn. Earlier, the Pakistan ambassador met another group of Pakistani community members at the Long Island residence of Shafqat Tanweer, President of Pakistan People’s Party, who hosted a lunch for her. APP