ISLAMABAD: 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.
The decision follows mounting pressure from religiopolitical parties against the appointment of Dr Mian, who is an Ahmadi.
According to a Friday morning tweet by Senator 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.
In a second tweet, Chaudhry said the ideal state, according to Prime Minister Khan, is of Madina and that the premier and members of his cabinet hold Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in high esteem.
“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 wrote.
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!”.