Esteemed diplomat Maleeha Lodhi has twice served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States and once to the U.K. She later went on to become the first woman to represent Pakistan at the United Nations in New York.

Known for her fiercely independent persona and quick wit, she’s effortlessly taken on key challenges in the line of politics for decades. We’re familiar with her analysis on an array of issues, but how well do we know her personally? Find out now in her exclusive talk with Haider Rifaat

How do you describe yourself?

Very driven

Sum up your personal style.

Minimalist with a splash of colour

Favourite cuisine?  

Desi, Italian, Chinese and Thai

Favourite city to visit?

Apart from home, London remains my all-time favorite, but New York is a close second.

How do you unwind? 

I read and watch movies. I love mindless soap operas to disconnect completely from serious issues.

Which political figures inspire you?

Quaid-e-Azam and Fatima Jinnah. They’re both equally inspiring for me.

A historic figure you long to have a conversation with?

Rumi

An overused political term? 

Crisis

Your view on freedom today? 

Freedom is earned, not granted.

How does the world view Pakistan, in your opinion? 

A country with enormous promise, but still struggling to realise it.

What one word describes Pakistan’s current political state?

Turmoil

How did it feel to be Pakistan’s first woman to represent the United Nations? 

It felt awesome

The key to diplomacy is…

Personal engagement, communication and above all, belief in one’s message.

An alternate career you would have chosen outside of politics. 

I’ve had careers in academia, journalism and diplomacy. The latter was by accident, but I never thought of pursuing anything other than these three fields.

An actor you admire? 

Too many to list

Who would play you in a biopic? 

I’ve never really given much thought to this, but I can only feel sorry for the person who plays me.

Any television show you follow religiously?

I enjoy HUM Television and GEO Entertainment drama serials. One of my favorites is “Anaa.”

A subject you disliked in school? 

Algebra

A holiday season you like? 

Spring, as it’s the season of new beginnings.

What does your ideal weekend comprise of? 

Cheat days, spending quality time with my family and visiting my favourite restaurant.

Favourite colour? 

Green

A Pakistani fashion designer you like? 

There are plenty. The top three are Maheen Khan, Faiza Samee and Khadija Shah.

An affordable international label you like?

Eileen Fisher

Key to success?

Sweat and tears

A part of Pakistan you want to visit, but haven’t yet?

Skardu, Gilgit

What ticks you off?

Hypocrisy

A habit you hope to work on? 

Patience

What’s your best quality? 

That’s for others to decide, but I suppose I’d say my ability to work hard and stay focused on my goals.

What’re your goals for this year? 

To continue to serve the country in whatever capacity I can.

Any personal or professional regrets?

Some, but I learnt from them and moved on.

An unfulfilled desire? 

To have spent more time with my parents, both of whom are no longer in this world.

In retrospect, what would you have done differently as a young adult? 

Hard to say really, but again, not being able to spend more time with my family, especially my son, is something I wish I could go back and change.

What’s changed when it comes to the Pakistani youth today?

Campuses in my time were full of student engagement on a host of public policy issues, so the emphasis was on advancing collective and not just personal goals. That seems to have changed. A few causes have, however, managed to fire the imagination of students today and the recent activism in our country is a promising development.

A quality we all need to work on as responsible citizens?

Tolerance for views other than our own.

Who has been your source of strength? 

My son, Faisal.

An advice that keeps you going? 

Stay calm and carry on.

What are you planning next?

I’m considering options. It’s tough, but let’s see where I end up.

 

Good Times

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