Born in Pakistan in 1950,Barlas was one of the first women to be inducted into the foreign service. Her diplomatic career was ended when General Zia ul Haq dismissed her from the Foreign Service on two charges:for calling him a "buffoon" in her personal diary (leaked by her former in-laws) and for having said, at a private dinner at the home of Pakistan's ambassador to the Philippines, that "the judiciary in Pakistan was neither free nor fair."
She joined the newspaper The Muslim
as assistant editor, but eventually had to leave Pakistan forreasons of personal safety in 1983, and later received political asylum in the U.S
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