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    Friday, 7 September 2018

    Govt asks Ahmadi economist Atif Mian to step down from Economic Advisory Council

    The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has asked Princeton University economist Atif R. Mian to step down from the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC), PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan announced.
    According to a Friday morning tweet by Javed, Mian has agreed to give up his position on the council. A replacement will be announced later, he added.
    Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary later confirmed the development, saying the government has decided to withdraw the nomination of Dr Mian from the EAC because it wants to avoid division.
    "The government wants to move forward alongside scholars and all social groups, and it is inappropriate if a single nomination creates an impression to the contrary," he tweeted.

    The appointment of Dr Mian of Princeton University (Department of Member Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) to the 18-member EAC set up to advise the government on economic policy was opposed by some individuals and groups, including Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.
    The news of his removal from the body comes as a surprise since the PTI government had only three days ago defended the academic's nomination, saying in categorical terms that it will "not bow to extremists".
    "Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority," Information Minister Chaudhary had told a press conference in Islamabad, amidst a vicious online campaign targeting Dr Mian for his Ahmadiyya faith.
    Chaudhry had taken to Twitter to recall that "Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah [also an Ahmadi] as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we'll follow [the] principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists."
    His thoughts were echoed by Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari, who tweeted: "Exactly. Well put indeed. Time to reclaim space for the Quaid's Pakistan!".

    Smear campaign

    A social media smear campaign had erupted against the economist's appointment, with many calling for his removal.
    A call-to-attention notice had also been submitted in the Senate by opposition parties against Mian's inclusion in the EAC. The notice bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members.
    No member of the PPP had signed the document, with the party making it clear that it would not be part of a witch-hunt based on someone's faith.
    A large number of detractors had also shown support for Mian, saying that one's religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment.
    Dri Atif Mian  
     
    Celebrated economist Atif Mian, who was asked to resign earlier on Friday from the government's Economic Advisory Council (EAC) for his adherence to the Ahmadiyya faith, tweeted a brief statement surrounding the circumstances of his resignation in the evening.
    The Princeton University economist said he had resigned for the sake of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government's stability, which he said had been under a lot of adverse pressure from Muslim clerics and their supporters.
    He nonetheless said he was still 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," he said.
    "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," he said.
    "My prayers will always be with Pakistan and I will always be ready to help it in any way that is required." The globally respected economist's statement had followed minutes after the resignation of Asim Ijaz Khwaja, professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, from the EAC.
    "Grateful for chance to aid analytical reasoning but not when such values compromised," he tweeted.
    "Personally as a Muslim I can't justify this," he said.
    "Ever ready to help. Pakistan Paindabad," Prof Khwaja said.

    Government statement

    Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary had tweeted earlier today saying that the government had decided to withdraw the nomination of Dr Mian to the EAC "because it wants to avoid division".
    "The government wants to move forward alongside scholars and all social groups, and it is inappropriate if a single nomination creates an impression to the contrary," he tweeted.
    "Khatm-i-Nabuwwat [belief in the finality of the prophethood] is a part of our faith and the recent success achieved by the government in the matter of blasphemous sketches is reflective of the same connection," he had added in a second tweet, which seemed aimed at quelling the elements who had campaigned against Mian's inclusion in the council due to this faith.
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    Item Reviewed: Govt asks Ahmadi economist Atif Mian to step down from Economic Advisory Council Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Asqamar