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Embassy Row: Pakistani ambassador quits
Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman resigned Tuesday, citing her party’s loss in parliamentary elections as she plans to return to her South Asian nation where she faces a police investigation on charges of blasphemy.
President Asif Ali Zardari picked her for the Washington post in November 2011 after the previous ambassador, Husain Haqqani, resigned in a dispute over allegations of secret messages sent to the Pentagon that warned of a possible military coup in Pakistan. Mr. Haqqani, now director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, repeatedly has denied he had any role in the scandal.
“I hope that she will take adequate measures for her safety and that the new government ensures her security in Pakistan,” he told Embassy Row.
She supported removing the death penalty for violating the country’s strict laws against defaming Islam — a position that brought a complaint of blasphemy from a Pakistani businessman and a court-ordered police investigation in February.
Her party lost in elections Sunday, as former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a devout Muslim, and his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) swept to power. Ms. Rehman is expected to return to her former position as president of the Jinnah Institute, a pro-democracy think tank in Islamabad.
In Pakistan, U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson met Tuesday with Mr. Sharif in Lahore, the country’s second-largest city. He reiterated U.S. support for the nuclear-armed nation neighboring Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are preparing to withdraw and turn over the fight against Islamic terrorism to Afghan forces.
A TOLERANT VILLAGE
U.S. Ambassador Richard Morningstar found a pocket of religious tolerance in Azerbaijan, a nation widely criticized for bureaucratic harassment of Islamic and Christian worshippers.
“It is great when different people live together,” he told a television station Tuesday after visiting the village of Nij in the northern part of the Caspian Sea nation.
The village of about 6,000 is home to most of Azerbaijan’s Albanian-Udi Christian community, an ancient ethnic enclave in a country where Muslims comprise about 96 percent of the population of about 9 million.
“Peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews is an honorable fact for Azerbaijan,” Mr. Morningstar said, despite repeated reports from the State Department and other organizations of routine religious discrimination by the Azeri government.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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