Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday appointed journalist-turned-diplomat Dr Maleeha Lodhi as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations based in New York. She will be the first woman to represent Pakistan at the United Nations.
“Dr Lodhi will assume her responsibilities in February 2015,” a Foreign Office statement said.
Previously, Lodhi has twice served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States (1993-1996 and 1999-2002) and as Pakistan’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom (2003-2008). She has also served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs (2001-2005).
She dealt with two different administrations in the US, that of President Bill Clinton and President George W Bush. Her second term in the US was especially challenging as it coincided with 9/11. Handling this situation urged Dr Lodhi to take to the airwaves in the West to defend Pakistan.
After that she served as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK for 5 years. On the 60th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence she organized a big music and cultural event at Trafalgar Square, the first of its kind.
Dr Lodhi has been among the leading writers and experts on foreign and security policy in the country.
The appointment shows that the prime minister is reaching out to professionals outside party circles and the bureaucracy. It also reflects a desire to widen the team at a time when Pakistan faces mounting foreign policy challenges amid which the UN will be an important forum to advance Pakistan’s case and project the country.
Dr Lodhi started her career in journalism becoming the first woman in S. Asia to become the editor of a national daily. Earlier she taught at the London School of Economics for five years.
She has also been an academic fellow at Harvard University and at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC. She is also the author of two books and in 2010 edited a popular collection, called ‘Pakistan: Beyond the crisis state.’
She is a member of the National Defence University’s Senate and a member of the advisory council of the London-based International Institute of Strategic Affairs. She is also the recipient of the presidential award Hilal-e-Imtiaz for public service.
She will replace incumbent Ambassador Masood Khan whose contract will expire in February 2015.