ISLAMABAD: Protesting the government’s decision to withdraw the nomination of Dr Atif Mian on the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), another celebrated economist resigned from the newly-formed body, saying “being a Muslim I can’t justify this”.

Dr Asim Ijaz Khwaja – who was one of the 18-member EAC Atif Mian was part of – announced his decision on the popular microblogging site Twitter shortly after the government asked Dr Atif Mian to step down from his position.

“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,” Dr Khwaja wrote on his official Twitter handle.

Dr Khwaja 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 Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP).

Govt axes ‘uncomfortable’ Atif Mian from economic council in turnaround

The appointment of Dr Mian of Princeton University (Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) to the 18-member EAC set up to advise the government on economic policy was opposed by some religious groups, including Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) because he belongs to the minority Ahmadiyya community.

The news of Dr Mian’s removal from the EAC came as a surprise as a day earlier Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had defended his nomination, saying the government would “not bow to extremists”. The TLP reacted strongly to Chaudhry’s statement and called for his resignation.

However, on Friday morning the government apparently gave in to pressure and asked Dr Mian to step down from the council.

“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,” the information minister wrote on his Twitter handle while announcing the government’s decision.

“[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,” he said in another tweet.

Dr Mian’s appointment triggered a smear campaign on the social media, with many calling for his removal.

A call-to-attention notice had also been submitted in the Senate by opposition parties against Dr Mian’s nomination on the EAC. The notice was signed by lawmakers from the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.

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’.

EAC asks premier to take tough economic decisions

Dr Mian also took to Twitter to announce that he has resigned from the EAC “for the sake of the stability of the government of Pakistan … as the government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment…”

“Nevertheless, I will always be ready to serve Pakistan as it is the country in which I was raised and which I love a great deal. Serving my country is an inherent part of my faith and will always be my heartfelt desire,” he wrote in a series of tweets.

“Moving forward, I now hope and pray that the Economic Advisory Council is able to fulfill its mandate in the very best way so that the Pakistani people and nation can prosper and flourish,” the celebrated economist on his official Twitter handle.