Top economists quit Imran’s panel over minority colleague’s ouster

Islamabad: London-based economist Imran Rasul became the second member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to resign after Atif Mian stepped down from the body following a backlash in Pakistan over his Ahmadi faith.

“With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this (Saturday) morning,” Rasul, a professor of economics at University College London (UCL), tweeted.

“The circumstances in which Atif was asked to step down are ones I profoundly disagree with,” Rasul said in a series of tweets.

His resignation comes a day after two prominent Pakistani economists resigned from the EAC after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government asked one of them to step down.

Atif Mian, a professor at Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, had said he was resigning because the government was facing pressure regarding his appointment.

Terming the reasons for Atif’s removal and subsequent resignation as “irrelevant factors”, Rasul expressed his disappointment and said it would be hard to replace the Princeton economist.

Commenting on the formation of the economic body, Rasul said the body offered a great opportunity for better economic policies but “events these past 10 days have shown the best and worst of Pakistani politics at the moment”.

On Thursday, protesting the government’s decision to withdraw the nomination of Atif Mian on the EAC, celebrated economist Asim Ijaz Khwaja resigned from the newly-formed body, saying “being a Muslim I can’t justify this”.

Khwaja – who was one of the initial 18 members of the EAC that Mian was part of – announced his decision on Twitter shortly after news spread that Mian was not part of the EAC.

The first meeting of the recently reconstituted EAC was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. With the resignation of Rasul, all three international economists of Pakistani origin on the council are no longer part of the advisory body.