The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led federal government has asked noted economist Atif Mian to step down from the prime minister-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday.

“The government has decided to withdraw Atif Mian’s nomination. We aspire to forge ahead with the cooperation of all stakeholders. This includes people from all socio-economic backgrounds and religious scholars. A single appointment cannot be allowed to hold this hostage.”

“(Prime Minister) Imran Khan draws inspiration from the first Islamic state of Madina. His cabinet members are lovers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Belief in the finality of prophethood constitutes an integral part of their confession. The government’s recent diplomatic victory over the Netherlands caricature contest is representative of this.”

PTI defends appointments on EAC

Atif Mian announced to step down as EAC member in a Twitter post. “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 from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters.”

Earlier, Senator Faisal Javed Khan had tweeted saying, “Atif Mian was asked to step down from the Advisory Council and he has agreed. A replacement would be announced later.”

Special Assistant to Prime Minister of Pakistan on Media Iftikhar Durrani termed the decision mutual. He said the uproar over the appointment had left the distinguished academic “uncomfortable”.

Another EAC member resigns

Meanwhile, another renowned economist and member of the EAC Dr Asim Ijaz Khawaja announced to resign in protest following the controversial decision.

“Have resigned from EAC. Painful, deeply sad decision. Grateful for chance to aid analytical reasoning but not when such values compromised. Personally as a Muslim I can’t justify this. May Allah forgive/guide me&us all. Ever ready to help. Pakistan Paindabad,” Khawaja tweeted.

Fawad Chaudhry slams Shehla Raza after tweet controversy

Dr Khawaja is the Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, co-director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), and co-founder of the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP). Khawaja was one of the 18-member EAC.

Mian’s appointment to the committee drew heavy flak on account of his confession. Prominent critics of the move included Shehla Raza of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam top boss Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Earlier on Wednesday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry reiterated the government’s resolve of secure minority rights. “Protecting minorities is an integral part of Islam. Pakistan is an Islamic state. We must ensure rights of all minorities are secured,” the minister said.