ISLAMABAD - Opposition leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman on Thursday said that her election to the post was a victory for the late Benazir Bhutto who sought woman empowerment.

Senator Rehman was notified as leader of the opposition by Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani on Thursday almost a week after Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto nominated her for the slot. She is first woman to lead the opposition in the Senate.

Benazir Bhutto was the first woman prime minister and also the first woman opposition leader in the National Assembly.

The PPP had earlier elected Krishna Kumari Kohli as the first Dalit senator. The PPP had also elected Bilawal Bhutto’s mother Benazir Bhutto as the first Muslim prime minister in 1988. She served another term from 1993-1996. Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.

Speaking to The Nation after her election, Sherry Rehman said: “It is a victory for Benazir Bhutto’s vision, which sought to empower women across the board.”

She added: “Thank you to my party leadership, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Asif Ali Zardari and opposition parties that reposed confidence in me. Thank you to colleagues from Fata [Federally-Administrated Tribal Areas] and Balochistan, as well as the ANP [Awami National Party] and the BNP-M [Balochistan National Party–Mengal] who have supported all the way. I look forward to working with all opposition.”

Senator Rehman replaced senior party leader Aitzaz Ahsan, who recently retired from the senate.

She was also Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting from 2008-2009 in the PPP government.

Rehman, the Vice President of the PPP, has been a Member of the Senate since 2015.

Previously, she had been Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2011 to 2013.

Born in Karachi, Senator Rehman received her BA from Smith College and her MA in art history from the University of Sussex.

In 1988, she joined the Herald as its editor and remained with the magazine until 1999.

In 2002, she was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan.

She was re-elected in 2008, and became a member of the Federal Cabinet under Prime Minister Gilani as the Minister for Information.

She resigned from the cabinet in 2009 and went on to serve as the Chair of the Pakistan Red Crescent and founded the non-partisan think tank, Jinnah Institute.

In November 2011, she was appointed as the ambassador to the United States and remained until April 2013.

In 2015, she was elected to the Senate.

She was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan for the first time as a candidate for PPP on reserved seat for women in general election, 2002, where she remained until 2007.

Rehman was re-elected to the National Assembly as a candidate for PPP on the reserved seat for women from Sindh in Pakistani general election, 2008. During her second tenure as Member of the National Assembly, she authored several legislations, which were tabled in the National Assembly.

In March 2008, she was inducted into the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and was appointed as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting.

She was given the additional ministerial portfolio of health in April 2008, and women development and culture in May 2008.  She remained Minister for Culture until August 2008.

In November 2008, she relinquished portfolios of Health and Women Development.

Senator Rehman resigned her post as information minister in March 2009 in protest over government attempt to put restrictions on the press freedom.

In November 2011, she was named Pakistan's Ambassador to United States following the resignation of Hussain Haqqani.

In June 2015, she was elected to the Senate of Pakistan for the first time as a candidate of the PPP on general seat from Sindh and replaced Abdul Latif Ansari.

Later on Thursday, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari congratulated Sherry Rehman.

In his message, the PPP chairman said that election of Sherry Rehman was in line with PPP’s inherited policy of empowerment of women and providing them equal opportunities to play their role in every sphere of life.

Bilawal said that he was confident Sherry Rehman would perform her best in leading the Opposition in the Upper House.

Meanwhile, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar said there was need for a paradigm shift in trade policy to promote regional trade and this calls for acting like a normal trading partner and not use trade as an instrument of politics.

Addressing a national conference on open trade organised by the Policy Research Institute of Market Economy here Thursday, he said trade with two countries in the region namely Afghanistan and India had been trumped by politics.

“Trade with Afghanistan had dwindled from over three billion dollars a year to less than one billion dollars and today more than 80 per cent of heavy containers bound for Afghanistan were shipped through Chahbahar,” Babar said.

He said that in February 2012 the PPP government switched from positive to negative list of tradable items with India with about 1,200 items on the negative list.

The Commerce Ministry was tasked to negotiate phasing out the negative list by December 2012.

A roadmap was agreed upon between India and Pakistan in September 2012 for bilateral trade promotion, he said and called for implementing the roadmap.

Babar said that mechanisms existed in the World Trade Organisation to protect national businesses through countervailing laws, anti-dumping laws and other duties.

“Turkey had already imposed heavy duties on Pakistan under it,” he said.

In March 2014, a cabinet meeting to approve the Most-Favoured Nation status to India was called off at the last minute.