Debt-ridden Pak removes illustrious economist for being Ahmadi

Islamabad: The newly formed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has axed economist Atif R Mian from the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

Senator Faisal Javed Khan put out a tweet informing that Dr Mian “was asked to step down from the Advisory council.”

Observers believe the decision to remove the Princeton University economist reflects the country’s strong bias against minority Ahmadi community. Dr Mian is an Ahmadi, whose appointment to the country’s top economic body raised eyebrows of several religio-political leaders, particularly from the Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme Nabuwwat Movement and the Majlis-i-Ahrar Islam.

Ahmadis or Ahmadiyya are a minority sect, which identifies itself as Muslim. But most Pakistanis reject them as blasphemous for believing there was a prophet after Muhammad. The community faces persecution in the country and is a target of violence and widespread discrimination, especially from religious fanatics.

The removal comes close on the heels of PTI-led government defending the academic’s nomination to the EAC, stressing that it will “not bow to extremists”.

According to the Dawn, Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary had told media persons on Tuesday that “Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority.”

He added, “What should we do with the minorities in the country? Should we throw them out?”
Three days later, Chaudhary took a U-turn. He tweeted, “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.”

43-year-old Dr Atif R Mian is a Professor of Economics in the University of Princeton, United States.

In an op-ed titled ‘Dr Atif Mian the pride of Pakistan’ Busharat Elahi Jamil writes, “International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranked him (Dr Mian) amongst the top 25 economists of the World. He has taught in reputable universities like the University of Chicago, University of California, Berkeley and now is proudly teaching in the Princeton University.”

The op-ed further mentions, “Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities have increased to $ 92 billion, out of which $14 billion were borrowed last year. Reportedly, public-debt has increased about 43 per cent to $23 billion during last five years.”

Imran Khan’s government constituted the EAC, with 11 national and international economists, to fire-fight this financial crisis.

“He belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, living in US and is a true patriot of Pakistan. But regrettably, fundamentalists and radicalised religious stratums are against his selection because of his sect,” Jamil says in the article.