Pakistan’s newly elected Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government asked Pakistani-American economist Dr. Atif R. Mian to step down from the newly created Economic Advisory Council (EAC). This controversial move occurred on September 7, just a few days after Dr. Mian’s appointment to the Council and under mounting pressure from right-wing religious parties, who objected to the appointment on religious grounds.
Dr. Atif Mian, a professor at Princeton University in the US, belongs to the Ahmadiyyasect, which was declared non-Muslim by the second amendment to the constitution of Pakistan in 1974. A 1984 ordinance promulgated by the government of General Zia ul Haq imposed further prohibitions against Ahmadi Muslims, including making the public practice of Islam and the use of Islamic symbols and titles a punishable crime.
After Mian’s appointment, a smear campaign ensued in social media against him and the government. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Maulana Fazal ur Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) threatened nationwide protests, and a notice signed by a number of members of Pakistan National Assembly was served to Parliament.
The EAC is headed by Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, and Dr. Mian was one of 18 nationally and internationally renowned members appointed to the Council. Fawad Chaudhry, Federal Information Minister and government spokesperson, initially defended the government’s decision, reminding critics that “it is an economic council, not Islamic Ideology Council.” Minister Chaudhry also declared that “Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority.” These statements were received with optimism, a ray of hope for ‘Naya Pakistan’ (New Pakistan), which turned out to be short-lived. Read more.