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September 8, 2018

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Removal of Atif from EAC shocks Jemima, Imran’s supporters

ISLAMABAD: The government decision to rescind Dr Atif R Mian’s membership of the 18-member Economic Advisory Committee within days of his appointment has sent shockwaves across the social media among the die-hard supporters of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party. 

Critics of the decision are also commenting in droves citing the event as weakness of the nascent PTI government. 

 On the social media platforms, Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan has called the termination of Mr Mian’s services as an EAC member as “indefensible and very disappointing.”

“New Pak gov asks renowned & respected Prof of economics to stand down because of his faith. The founder of Pakistan, “Quaid-I-Azam” appointed an Ahmadi as his Foreign Minister,” tweeted Jemima in a tweet.

Defending the government action, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also tweeted on Friday saying the government had withdrawn the nomination of Atif Mian as member of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

The minister wrote that the government wanted 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.

Elaborating his point of view, the minister said the prime minister considered the city state of Madina as his ideal for governance and the premier himself and his cabinet colleagues were lovers of the Holy Prophet (SAW). He wrote that the concept of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat was part of their faith and claimed the government’s recent success in connection with blasphemous sketches was part of this association with the Prophet (SAW).

Interestingly, discussing the nomination of Mr Mian with Islamabad journalists on Tuesday, Minister Chaudhry has asked: "Should there be restrictions imposed on minorities in Pakistan? Should minorities in Pakistan be thrown out? What kind of people say things like this?”

The minister had defended the government decision to appoint Mr Mian and said: “This is a man who the entire world is saying will receive a Nobel Peace Prize in the next five years. He has been appointed to the Economic Advisory Council, not the Council of Islamic Ideology or something else. Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority."

"I don't think anyone should have objections [to Mr Mian’s appointment], and those who do, they are basically extremists and we will not bow to extremists," Minister Chaudhry said.

Commenting on his removal from the EAC, Dr Mian, a professor at Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, said he was resigning because the government was facing pressure regarding his appointment. In a tweet, he said he was ready to serve Pakistan as it was the country he was raised in and loved a great deal.

“Moving forward, I now hope and pray that the Economic Advisory Council is able to fulfil its mandate in the very best way so that the Pakistani people and nation can prosper and flourish,” he said.

In a related development, Dr Asim Ijaz Khawaja, a professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and a leading international economist of Pakistani origin, also stepped down from the EAC in protest after news of Atif Mian's resignation became public knowledge.

“Have resigned from EAC. Painful, deeply sad decision,” Dr Asim said in a message on Twitter, adding that “ever ready to help” Pakistan.

Questions are already been asked if the other members of the Economic Advisory Council working with international institutions would stay with the government body or decide otherwise.

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