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Honorary Friends

 Honorary Friends Lend Support and Counsel

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry

H.E. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the United States is a member of the Foreign Service of Pakistan with 36 years of bilateral and multilateral experience. He has served as the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, he served as the Foreign Office Spokesman. Mr. Chaudhry has also served as an Additional Foreign Secretary for the UN and Disarmament Affairs, and as Director General for relations with the South Asian countries, in which capacity he remained closely associated with the peace process with India. 

Overseas, he served as an Ambassador of Pakistan to the Netherlands, where he engaged in active public diplomacy in cooperation with the Pakistani community to win friends for Pakistan. He has also authored a book titled, "Pakistan mirrored to Dutch eyes." In his other overseas assignments, Mr. Chaudhry served as Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York, Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary General of ECO in Tehran, and Pakistan Embassies in Washington, Doha and Cairo. 

Mr. Chaudhry holds Masters in International Relations from Tufts University, Massachusetts, and a First Class First Bachelor of Science from Punjab University, Lahore.

Shaista Mahmood


Born and raised in Pakistan, Shaista Mahmood moved to the United States in 1976. She is a graduate from University of Punjab in Pakistan. Shaista has long been active in helping people with a special focus on children. For decades, the Mahmoods, Shaista and her husband Rafat Mahmood have been raising money to build schools and support children in Pakistan and other countries. Shaista serves on boards of several organizations including Children's National Hospital; Developments in Literacy (DIL) in Pakistan; Aschiana Foundation in Afghanistan; World Affairs Council; and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD). Along with Ray, she also serves on the Advisory Board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Shaista is passionate about women's empowerment through education and entrepreneurship and was instrumental in advocating for the creation of the U.S. Pakistan Women's Council, launched at the United Nations in 2012. 

Mahmoods believe that in today's world change can only be initiated by bringing people together and working on the issues collaboratively. To this end, they host events large and small that bring U.S. and Pakistani government, business, military and civil society leaders and experts together to share a meal fostering mutual understanding.

Shaista is a proud mother and grandmother of four children and three grandchildren respectively.

Anita McBride

Anita McBride

Anita McBride is the Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, DC. She directs programming and national conferences on the legacies of America’s First Ladies and their historical influence on politics, policy and global diplomacy. Anita serves as an Advisor to the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, as well as a strategic consultant to global nonprofit organizations.

Previously, McBride served as an Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush from 2005 until 2009. She directed a broad range of domestic and global initiatives involving Mrs. Bush - that supported US foreign policy objectives in human rights, women’s empowerment, and global health and education. McBride's White House service spans two decades and three presidential administrations, including as Director of White House Personnel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush; and as Director of the U.S. Speaker's Bureau at the United States Information Agency.
She also serves as a Co-Director of the RAND African First Ladies Initiative and Fellowship program. She is a member of several organizations, including the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the White House Historical Association. She also is one of the longest-serving members of the US-Afghan Women’s Council.
Anita received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of Connecticut and studied international relations and foreign languages at the University of Florence in Italy and at American University. She is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s President’s Award of Distinction, American University’s Alice Paul Award and the National Guard and Reserve’s Patriot Award. She is a frequent commentator on network and cable news and contributes to several publications including Politico and Daily Beast.

Senator Sherry Rehman

sherry rehman

Sherry Rehman has served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States (Nov 2011-June 2013); Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pakistan (2008-09) and ranking member of the National Security Committee in the Parliament. Ambassador Rehman also held three additional portfolios of Health, Women Development and Culture as Federal Minister, in 2008. Her interests in the Parliament include foreign and security policy, human rights legislation, and media.

Sherry Rehman is the founding Chair of the Jinnah Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank committed to the strengthening of democracy, governance and an independent national security project in Pakistan. She is also an award-winning journalist with 20 years of experience in both the broadcast and the print media. Former editor of the “Herald” newsmagazine based in Pakistan, she studied art history and politics at the Smith College, USA, and the University of Sussex, UK.

Sherry Rehman is also the architect of the first parliamentary charter and bill for women empowerment, mover of the Hudood Ordinances Repeal Bill, mover of the Anti-Honour Killings Bill, as well as the Freedom of Information Act 2004. Her bills include the removal of colonial press laws in Pakistan, as well as legislation on Domestic Violence and Affirmative Action for women.

Robina Ather

robina ather

Recently Pakistan’s Additional Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce, Robina Ather is currently serving as a member of the National Tariff Commission. She recognizes the powerful impact of fostering women’s economic participation across all levels of society. In her current role, Robina has represented Pakistan in trade negotiations with major regional partners such as Iran on the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and China on China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation (CPEC). 

In 2014 Secretary Ather led Pakistan’s efforts to implement commitments in the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment, working closely with members of the U.S. Trade Representatives, Commerce and State Departments. Mrs. Ather participated in the plenary panel of the 2015 bilateral Business Opportunities Conference in New York City titled, “How Gender Diversity Can Boost Your Bottom Line.” 

With U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson, she inaugurated the Women’s Entrepreneurial Center of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad, in 2015. This was the first of a number of WECREATE Centers to be launched by the U.S. Department of State to empower women and promote entrepreneurship globally.

Saadia Zahidi

Saadia Zahidi

Saadia Zahidi is a Member of the Executive Committee and Head of Education, Gender and Work at the World Economic Forum. Under her leadership, the Forum’s teams in these areas produce new insights, gather best practices, help set change strategies for businesses and governments and mobilize leaders to work together to drive progress. Saadia founded and co-authors the Forum's Global Gender Gap Report, Human Capital Report, Future of Jobs Report and several other publications. She was selected as one of BBC's 100 Women in 2013 and 2014 and won the inaugural FT/Mckinsey Bracken Bower Prize for prospective authors under 35. She is a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. Her book, Forty Million Rising, on womenomics in the Muslim world, will be released in 2017. She holds degrees in economics and public administration from Smith College, the Graduate Institute and Harvard University. She is from Pakistan and lives in Switzerland.

Active Friends

The following Active Friends of the Council provide ongoing guidance and feedback and assist with the Council's initiatives and activities.

Syeda Henna Babar Ali

Henna Babar Ali

Syeda Henna Babar Ali has authored eight books of poetry; seven in English and one in Urdu. She has been writing poetry in English and Urdu since she was 9 years old. 

Henna is the recipient of the Houghton Mufflin Best Poetry Award, Spring 1985, the Best English Poet Award, Bolan Cultural Academy 2002. In 2005 she was awarded the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in recognition of her contribution to English Literature. Her poems have been published internationally in Asiaweek, Mindus Artium, Connexions, and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and locally in the Pakistan Times, the News, Dawn, and Din.

Currently she is the President of Pen Pakistan Center, which encourages young writers through awards when they publish their first books. In addition, she plays a key role in running business Packages Limited, a company that employs 1500 people and serves clients like Unilever and Pakistan Tobacco Company. 

Henna lives with her family in Lahore.

Sadaffe Abid

sadaffe abid

Sadaffe Abid is the founding team member of Kashf Foundation, one of largest microfinance institutions (MFI) in Pakistan. She helped Kashf grow from a pilot project in two rooms to becoming the first financially sustainable MFI in the country with 150 branches and 300,000 clients. Sadaffe is an experienced practitioner of microfinance, leadership development and capacity building, and led the organization as the COO and later as the CEO.  While Sadaffe was COO, Kashf received the AGFUND International Prize, Grameen Trust Microfinance Excellence Award and was ranked 34th in the Forbes World’s Top 50 MFI’s during her tenure as CEO.

Sadaffe is also the co-founder and CEO of Buksh Foundation, a start-up social venture focused on enhancing financial access to under-served segments of youth and micro entrepreneurs with innovative financial products and financial education.

Sadaffe has been a mentor to MIT Legatum Fellows and an advisor to Acumen Fund’s Pakistan office. She has a Bachelor degree from Mount Holyoke College and was a Mason Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her work at Kashf has been profiled in Nicholas Kristoff’s book, Half the Sky and Isobel's Coleman's book, Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East.  

Sabeen Haque

Sabeen Haque

Formerly, a multi-franchisee and Market Director of "Ladies who Launch", Sabeen worked hand-in-hand with one of the fastest growing entrepreneur segments: women. As a Facilitator of Incubator Workshops in a program that provided women with resources needed to begin or grow a business, and connected like-minded women through local and online communities, Sabeen helped hundreds of women entrepreneurs clarify, expand, and move forward with their business ideas. Her role quickly evolved to work with both small and large businesses, where she assists and equips women in "lean in" and lead at all levels. 

Sabeen has been mentored by Martha Beck, a New York Times Bestselling Author and Oprah's life coach, and through her work she received further training from world class teachers such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Sonia Choquette, Julia Cameron, Marianne Williamson, and Deepak Chopra. 

She has participated in TED events, Presidents Obama's Entrepreneurship Summit, Opportunity Collaboration and the Women in the World Summit, and realized that her work was in Pakistan. Sabeen currently lives in Karachi. She was the Director of Ashoka Changemakers, and has served in an advisory capacity for Naya Jeevan, PPAF, Seed Ventures, Global Shapers, i0Genius, and the US-Pakistan Women's Council.

Dr. Saqib Rizavi

Dr. Saqib Rizavi

Saqib Rizavi most recently worked as President of SZABIST (Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology), one of the top institutions of higher education with four campuses in Pakistan and one in Dubai. In this capacity, he provided leadership in all areas of the institution’s life, strategy, policy, management, financial sustainability, institutional development, and outreach. During his tenure, Higher Education Commission of the Government of Pakistan ranked SZABIST as one of the best business institutions in Pakistan.

He has extensive professional experience having worked in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Planning Commission of the Government of Pakistan, a private sector financial institution in Pakistan, and as a consultant for the USAID.

During his IMF career, among others positions, he worked as mission chief, Senior Economist, and IMF Resident Representative in Guyana. His professional career gave him a unique opportunity to work on a variety of public policy and development issues in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

He has authored and co-authored a number of papers and contributed to reports on a variety of issues related to growth, development, macroeconomic stabilization, debt, and policies to harness and mitigate the impact of globalization.

Currently, in addition to serving as a Friend of the US-Pakistan Women’s Council, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington DC Chapter of the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN), a partner organization of the US-Pakistan Women’s Council, and is also a member of the Board of Directors of International Monetary Fund Retirees Association (IMFRA).

Saqib Rizavi obtained a PhD in Economics from Northeastern University, USA, a Masters in Development Economics from Vanderbilt University, USA, and Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Punjab, Pakistan.

Farida Rokadia

Farida Rokadia

Farida Rokadia started her career in 1996 as a teacher of history at Karachi American School. It was there when she became involved in teaching World History and AP European History and coordinated and led Strategic Planning for the school. Her work resulted in school acquiring accreditation from the Middle Schools of America. During her time there, she initiated the Model United Nations Program, which has been successfully maintained since its inception.  

After 9/11, Farida re-entered student life and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. Continuing her love of learning and international interaction, she completed a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution with an emphasis in Religious Peacebuilding at American University. Her thesis looked at Madressas as a parallel education system or schools of radicalism. Farida is the author of Madressas as terror schools: The myth and the reality.” Most recently, she completed compiling a book on Pakistani female role models along with their success stories, entitled “Pakistani Women: Journeys of Success“. Farida aspires to continue her career in education and gender issues. She is a member of the Interfaith Council at the University of Connecticut.

Saulat Salahuddin

Saulat Salahuddin is a business executive who has been a dynamic force in the promotional industry and has played a leading role in establishing it as a recognized industry. She built a promotional products company that is widely considered to be the industry leader and is the partner of choice for premium brands in Pakistan.

She has grown her company, Pronto Promo (Private) Limited, from a home based business to a case study SME (small and medium enterprise) cited as a role model for Pakistan’s promotional products industry. She has built an impressive client portfolio comprising more than 24 fortune 500 companies. These clients include Coca Cola, Nestle, Unilever, McDonald’s and Pakistan Tobacco Company (PTC). Her focus on consistently contributing to clients’ objectives has led to high client retention and tremendous goodwill.

She is passionate about excellence, integrity, dignity of labor, social responsibility and abides by these principals in all her professional and personal endeavors. She is most proud of the educational assistance available to all her employees and their offspring. It was this background that enabled Pronto to earn a “green” status in first attempt in social compliance audit. Pronto is now in the unique position of being the only socially compliant supplier of two multinationals in promotional products Industry.

Dr. Misbah Tanveer Choudhry

Misbah Tanveer

Dr. Misbah Tanveer is Assistant Professor at Suleman Dawood School of Business of Lahore University of Management Sciences. Her research is focused on labor markets and unemployment issues, gender disparity, labor productivity and economic growth, demographic transition, impact of economic crises on labor markets and female health issues. 

Her research has been published in high-quality journals like The European Journal of Development Review, International Journal of Manpower and Economic Systems. She has presented her work in a number of reputed international conferences. She served as the Guest Editor for a special issue of Economic Systems published in 2015.

Dr. Tanveer holds a PhD in Development Economics from University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Before that, she was working at State Bank of Pakistan in Research Department focusing on social sector issues.  Currently, she is the Project Director for the Pakistan Women Entrepreneurship Program (PWEP) in collaboration with American University, Washington DC.

Murtaza Zaidi

Murtaza Zaidi

Murtaza Zaidi is a seasoned entrepreneur; Founder & CEO of CyberVision International, a broad spectrum organization involved in creating world class custom application software & web solutions. 

Mr. Zaidi launched Quantum Geoservices Pvt. Ltd; first independent and privately owned Oil and Gas Seismic Data Processing Company in Pakistan, with its head office located in Singapore. The company provides a full range of 2D, 3D, 4D land and marine geophysical integrated/interactive solutions. He is one of the Directors of the company and also holds the Country Head position in Pakistan. 

Being an entrepreneur himself, Murtaza feels a profound responsibility to create and promote an enabling environment for entrepreneurship. He is the Executive Director of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Islamabad Chapter; TiE is the world’s largest non-profit organization that fosters Entrepreneurship. He has established and leads WECREATE, a women’s entrepreneurship development incubation/co-working space, and organizes the national Startup Cup, an entrepreneurship development and competition program, which over three years has processed over 2200 entries including 50% women driven initiatives, many from the Northern Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He played an instrumental role in launching the TiE Islamabad Angel fund; one of the very first of its kind in the country to invest in Startup companies. 

He is a member of Global Board of Griffin Worx INC. (previously StartUp Cup Llc), which has grassroots entrepreneurial development programs in 46 countries around the world and is focused on developing and challenged socio-economies. As the Thought Partner (Advisor) he has played an instrumental role by advising StartUp Cup global initiative; StartUp Cup is a global program for the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems, startups and job creation, operating a global network of "accelerators without walls" in over 46 countries.

Murtaza is also the Co-chair of Innovation Steering Committee of Higher Education Commission (HEC) driving the ORICS (Office of research, innovations and commercialization) and Technology Development Fund of PKR 2.91 Billion. Murtaza has also served as a Board Member of Skill Development Council, Islamabad, since 2010. Skill Development Council, Islamabad, was established by the Government of Pakistan, with the aim to identify, develop and arrange Vocational, Technical / Professional and IT Training Programs.

Murtaza has also played an instrumental role in developing curriculum of the training program of Cyber Entrepreneurship - a solution that aims to target the issues of unemployment, limited means and depleting foreign exchange in third world countries along with business management courses for USAID Entrepreneurs Project.

Lasting Friends

The category of Lasting Friends of the Council include former Active and Honorary Friends, and are recognized here for their continued support of the Council.

Nilofer Saeed

nilofer saeed

Nilofer Saeed is one of the most prominent female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. In 1993, Mrs. Saeed launched Copper Kettle Cafe, the first restaurant of its kind to offer a wide variety in western, continental and Pakistani cuisine. Mrs. Saeed launched a series of bakeries by the brand name Hobnob Bakery. Today thirteen bakeries are operational in Karachi, and plans for further expansion are currently underway. Mrs. Saaed also launched N'eco's Natural Store & Café, the first outlet in Pakistan to offer a wide range of organic, natural, herbal and social enterprise goods. Most recently, Mrs. Saeed re-invented Copper Kettle Cafe as Hobnob Cafe, with marked improvements in cuisine and ambiance.

In 2010, Mrs. Saeed was given The Momentum Award on behalf of The LadiesFund in recognition of her seminal contribution to the cafe culture in Pakistan. In 2012, Mrs. Saeed was invited by the Prime Minister of Turkey to attend the Arabia 500 Summit in Istanbul, where her company was recognized amongst the 100 Fastest Growing Companies. Aside from her professional commitments, Mrs. Saeed is also the first female member on the board of directors of The Citizens Foundation (TCF), the leading non-profit organization working in the field of education in Pakistan. She was awarded this position in recognition of her immense fund-raising efforts through Supporters of TCF (STCF) alliance.

Yasmin Hyder

yasmin hyder

Yasmin Hyder, Chief Executive, New World Concepts has over 25 years of work experience mainly in the fields of marketing, communications, project management, human resource development, trade promotion as well as capacity building for women organizations. She has worked with both local and international as well for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in Pakistan and abroad. An alumnus of Cardiff Business School and Institute of Business Administration, Ms. Hyder heads a corporate marketing and business development firm based in Karachi. Services offered by New World Concepts include Marketing strategy; Management consultancy; Designing, Branding and Creative services; Corporate Event Management; Media and Public Relations; Editorial and Publishing services; Audio Visual productions; Web designing and Social Media Marketing.

Ms. Hyder was selected to represent Pakistan as part of the UN Global Women Entrepreneurs Trade Mission to Canada, by the UNCTAD International Trade Centre Geneva in 2007. Her organization assists the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in marketing and promoting Expo Pakistan, the country's largest premeir annual exposition and the country's participation in international events. She collaborates with bilateral trade organizations and diplomatic missions building cross border understanding through promoting trade relations and cultural exchanges. 

Riffat Chughtai

riffat chughtai

Riffat Chughtai has been a member of the Pittsburgh Community since 1981. She has served her community in many capacities by not only serving the Muslim Community in different capacities but also served the general community of Pittsburgh thus becoming a bridge between the two. She is the executive director of Pittsburgh Muslim Family Support Services, a non-profit organization which fulfills the mental health needs of the Muslim community while educating the non-Muslim professionals on the cultural and religious norms and sensitivities of American Muslims. She recently started a think-tank called Jinnah Initiative for Diplomacy for improving Pakistan American relations, pushing legislators and the State Department to use the Pakistani American diaspora to better understand the dynamics between both the countries and providing solutions to overcome those barriers. 

Riffat was the first education secretary of MCCGP (Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh). She is a Board member and co-chair of the Advisory Council for health initiatives for diversities with Allegheny County’s Department of Health and Human Services, member of many interfaith dialogue groups and is a visiting speaker at Carlow University, University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English Literature from Pakistan and a Masters in Psychology from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. She has certification in Crisis Intervention and hypnosis and has recently completed a certificate Executive MBA Program.

Aakif Ahmad

Aakif Ahmad

Aakif Ahmad is the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, a U.S-based firm facilitating consensus-based solutions to issues of national and international policy, where distrust and the failure to communicate among key stakeholders impedes progress toward solutions. His key roles include organizational strategy, fund development, operations and external communications. He also leads the U.S.-Pakistan Leaders Forum, a major initiative to promote greater societal linkages between the U.S. and Pakistan through civil society and private sector partnership development. Mr. Ahmad has been invited to speak on panels sponsored by the Brookings Institution, the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy, the Association for Conflict Resolution, the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs, the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation and the American Jewish Committee.

From 1996 to 2008, Mr. Ahmad worked at the Corporate Executive Board, a VA-based consulting and executive education firm with 2,000+ employees providing peer-driven best practices solutions to the world’s largest corporations. As Managing Director, he led sales & marketing organizations across Europe and North America that generated more than $100 million in revenue across his tenure. He served as a member of the Management Committee for Global Sales and Marketing and was elected to the firm’s Policy Committee in 2002 as one of the top 50 leaders in the corporation. 

Mr. Ahmad earned a B.A. from Yale University in Ethics, Politics and Economics, and M.B.A from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ambassador Jalil Jilani

Ambassador Jalil Jilani

Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani assumed his responsibilities as Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States on January 2, 2014. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, he served as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan from March 2012 to December 2013. A career diplomat, Ambassador Jilani has served as Pakistan's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union (2009-2012) and Pakistan's High Commissioner to Canberra, Australia (2007-2009). His other overseas assignments include: Jeddah (1983-1985), London (1985-1988) and Washington (1995-1999).

Ambassador Jilani holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and M.Sc. in Defense and Strategic Studies. He specializes in South Asian affairs and has served at the Foreign Office in various roles such as Director (1992-1995); Deputy High Commissioner/Acting High Commissioner to New Delhi (1999-2003) and Director General South Asia and SAARC (2003-2007). In 2005, he also served as the Government of Pakistan's Spokesman on Foreign Affairs. From 1989 to 1992, Ambassador Jilani served as Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.