After minority economist Atif Mian’s sacking, two more members quit Imran Khan’s advisory council

750

As the Imran Khan’s Pakistan government gave in to the pressure from hardliners and sacked noted economist Atif Mian from a newly-constituted economic panel, two more members of the body resigned in protest.

Atif Mian, a member of the minority Ahmadi community, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated Pakistani-American economics professor at the prestigious Princeton University, was recently named a member of the 18-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC)  to advise the government on economic policy. He is the only Pakistani to be considered among International Monetary Fund’s list of ‘Top 25 brightest young economists’.

Succumbing to pressure from the hardliners, the Pakistan government on Friday withdrew the nomination of Mian from the EAC.

In reaction to Mian’s sacking, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, and Imran Rasul, a Professor of Economics at University College London (UCL) on Saturday announced their resignation on Twitter.

“Have resigned from EAC. Painful, deeply sad decision. Grateful for chance to aid analytical reasoning but not when such values compromised. Personally as a Muslim I can’t justify this. May Allah forgive/guide me & us all. Ever ready to help. Pakistan Paindabad,” Khwaja tweeted.

“With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this morning. The circumstances in which Atif was asked to step down are ones I profoundly disagree with. Basing decisions on religious affiliation goes against my principles, or the values I am trying to teach my children,” Rasul said in a tweet.

RELATED NEWS

Mian’s appointment embroiled in a controversy after it was opposed by several individuals and groups, including the hardline Islamist party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.

Ahmadis are designated non-Muslims in Pakistan’s Constitution and their beliefs are considered blasphemous in most mainstream Islamic schools of thought. They are often targeted by the extremists and their places of worship vandalised.

The move came three days after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government defended the academic’s nomination to the EAC led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying in categorical terms that it will “not bow to extremists”.

Earlier, in a series of tweets, Mian announced his resignation saying he was always ready to help Pakistan.

“For the sake of the stability of the Government of Pakistan, I have resigned from the Economic Advisory Council, as the Government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters,” he said.

“Nevertheless, I will always be ready to serve Pakistan as it is the country in which I was raised and which I love a great deal. Serving my country is an inherent part of my faith and will always be my heartfelt desire.

“Moving forward, I now hope and pray that the Economic Advisory Council is able to fulfill its mandate in the very best way so that the Pakistani people and nation can prosper and flourish. My prayers will always be with Pakistan and I will always be ready to help it in any way that is required,” he added.