Islamabad - Renowned economist and member of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) Dr Atif Mian on Friday resigned from his post following a request by the government.
This came after mounting pressure from religio-political groups against the appointment for his being a member of Qadiani (or Ahmadi) community.
In a series of tweets, Atif Rehman Mian said that he has resigned for the sake of stability of the PTI-led government. However, he said he will always be ready to serve Pakistan – the country where he was raised and which he loves.
The tweets came hours after another EAC member Asim Ijaz Khwaja reportedly resigned in protest against the withdrawal of Atif’s nomination. However, there was no official confirmation about the resignation of Asim till filing of this report.
Atif Mian’s appointment was part of Prime Minister Imran Khan's efforts to steer the country out of economic crisis but a large number of people have opposed the inclusion of Princeton University professor due to his faith.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan broke the news about Mian when he tweeted that the economist was asked to step down from the advisory council and he has agreed. A replacement would be announced later, he added.
Later, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also tweeted that the government has decided to withdraw Atif Mian’s nomination as member of Economic Advisory Council (EAC).
He said the government wants to move forward taking along Ulema and all segments of the society, and if a different perception develops through a nomination, it is not right.
He said the state of Madina is the ideal of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the prime minister and his cabinet members love their Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
The minister said Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is part of “our faith” and the government's recent success in connection with blasphemous caricatures was part of this association.
Fawad condemned illegal use of his name and telephone calls to various organisations by fraudulent elements.
Taking strict notice of fake telephone calls associated to him, the minister said miscreant elements want to malign the present government and damage his reputation. Such fraudulent elements will be brought to the book.
He said people and organisations should beware of such elements and they should first confirm any such call to foil any fraud.
PTI government has faced host of controversies since induction of the leading economist Atif Mian into the newly-constituted Economic Advisory Council.
Dr Mian has served as a professor of economics, public policy and finance at Princeton University and as director of The Julis-Rabinowitz Centre for Public Policy and Finance at Woodrow Wilson School. He is the only Pakistani to be considered among International Monetary Fund’s “top 25 brightest young economists”.
But he comes from a community which is hated by many groups and individuals among the Muslims – which make up the majority of Pakistani nation— because of Ahmadis’ disbelief in the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).
Qadianis (who prefer themselves to be called Ahmadis) were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment passed on September 7, 1974 during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
This measure was later followed with Gen Ziaul Haq making it a punishable offence for Qadianis to call themselves Muslim or to refer to their faith as Islam.
Strong reaction came on Atif Mian’s nomination and a campaign was launched on the social media against it. The PTI government initially defended his case by saying categorically that it will "not bow to extremists".
"Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority," Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary had told a press conference in Islamabad.
But the pressure kept mounting. Even 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.
However, no member of the PPP had signed the document and the party made it clear that it would not be part of any witch-hunt based on someone's faith.
A large number of supporters had also defended Mian's appointment on social media, saying that one's religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment. But the pressure on the government kept mounting, making it to backtrack.
Religious issues like blasphemy laws and finality of prophet-hood are very sensitive and many a times mishandling of such matters has led to ugly violence in the past.
Religious minister’s take
Minister of Religious Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri on Friday said that the decision of removing Dr Atif Mian from Economic Advisory Council was taken after due deliberations.
Talking to a delegation of religious scholars, Qadri said that Prime Minister Imran Khan consulted him over the issue and sought his opinion.
"I told PM that according to Islam and law of Pakistan, Qadianis are non-Muslims and appointing any Qadiani on any top slot may hurt religious feelings of general public and there could be a strong reaction", the minister told the visitors, a participant of the meeting confided to The Nation.
The delegation appreciated that Qadianis can contest elections on reserved seats and can contribute to the country by that channel only.
The minister, however, promised that the state would ensure that the minorities get their rights as per constitution of Pakistan.
The minister clarified that the announcement of appointing Atif Mian in EAC was based on his expertise in economic affairs but when it was revealed that he belonged to a Qadiani minority and a backlash on social media came, the decision was reversed.
Qadri stressed that since the matter has been settled and the appointment has been withdrawn, the it must not be discussed any further.
The ministry officials confirmed the meeting also discussed various other matters, including Muharram preparations and a joint notification was issued, calling upon clerics to desist from issuing any inflammatory statements against other sects.
The meeting agreed that religious differences should be settled through consultation, reflection and serious dialogue and any national platforms should not be used to ridicule other sects.
Allama Izhar Bukhari suggested that all TV channel programmes where controversial scholars are invited for rating must be banned.
It was also proposed that all those singers or other TV presenters who engage in worldly matters the whole year must not be allowed to become a religious scholar in Muharram.
The representatives of different religious parties agreed to support love, tolerance and mutual understanding during the holy month and to respect viewpoint of others.
They also agreed on strict action against those who disrespect scared personalities, national flag or Pakistan Army.
Atif Mian resigns from EAC on