KARACHI: The much-hyped Economic Advisory Council constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan has lost its charm as all the three foreign experts, Atif Mian, Dr Asim Ijaz Khawaja and Dr Imran Rasul have quit from the body following the controversy regarding the faith of Mr Mian.
Fulfilling the promise of bringing the best of the best Pakistani talent on-board to help country steer out of the crisis, the prime minister constituted the 18-member EAC including top economic experts in the panel.
Three of them were Pakistanis teaching at the top universities of US and UK: Atif Mian, Princeton University (Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy); Dr Asim Ijaz Khawaja, Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development at Harvard Kennedy School; and Dr Imran Rasul, Professor of Economics Department of Economics University College London.
Soon after the announcement, religious groups questioned the government over inclusion of Atif Mian, a member of minority community. Initially, the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf stood its ground and defended the appointment strongly but after a few days it succumbed to the pressure and requested the professor to quit.
The Princeton expert resigned.
In a twitter post he said: “For the sake of the stability of the Government of Pakistan, I have resigned from the Economic Advisory Council, as the Government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment”.
It didn’t stop here and the other two renowned experts in the EAC resigned in protest.
“Have resigned from EAC. Painful, deeply sad decision. Grateful for chance to aid analytical reasoning but not when such values compromised,” Dr Asim Ijaz Khwaja said on Friday.
The next day, Dr Imran Rasul too announced his inability to work in the advisory council. “With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this morning. The circumstances in which Atif was asked to step down are ones I profoundly disagree with,” the UCL professor stated in his twitter post Saturday.
The government has not yet announced as to who would be replacing these financial experts but one this is certain that the PTI would find it difficult to fill the posts with equally talented people.
The EAC is expected to play a pivotal role in strengthening the capacity of the government to design and introduce sound and effective policies for rapid and continued social and economic advancement, human resource development, improvement of business processes and strengthening of data services.
The Council will also facilitate capacity building of the government in conducting policy analysis and will assist in reaching out to the international network of recognised economists to contribute to Pakistan’s development.
Ministry of Finance will be the nodal government agency for the EAC, which will function in an entirely non-partisan manner and is expected to strengthen existing state institutions in a collaborative and concerted manner.
The ultimate goal of the Council is to promote analytically sound and evidence-based reforms and initiatives for the progress and development of Pakistan.