Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, on Friday, announced via Twitter that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had asked economist Atif Mian to step down from the Economic Advisory Council established by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In a tweet posted in Urdu, Chaudhry said that the government wanted to work with all groups and the controversy caused by Mian’s appointment was not conducive to this goal. Similarly, PTI senator Faisal Javed Khan also tweeted that “a replacement” for Mian “would be announced later.”
Mian, a faculty member at Princeton University, had been named to the 18-member Economic Advisory Council set up to advise the government on economic policy. His appointment had been hailed by progressive voices, who saw in it a step toward a more inclusive Pakistan that did not shun its minorities and lauded their accomplishments alongside those of its majority population.
Within a day of his appointment, rightwing groups and individuals had slammed the move, claiming his Ahmadiyya faith was against the ideology of Pakistan. Opposition parties, barring the Pakistan Peoples Party which made it clear it would not target anyone on the basis of their faith, in the Senate had also submitted a call-to-attention notice against Mian’s involvement in the advisory body.
The Senate’s move and social media smear campaign launched against Mian had prompted a full-throated defense of his appointment by information minister Chaudhry, who had told a press conference that Pakistan belonged to its minorities as much it did the majority. He had also pointed out that Pakistan was formed on the basis of giving the minority Muslims rights they had been denied by the Hindu majority in India and it would be hypocritical for Islamabad to deny minorities on its soil the same rights. He had said anyone opposing Mian’s appointment was an “extremist” and the government would not “bow to extremists.”
Chaudhry’s press conference had prompted the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, to not only demand Mian’s removal from the Economic Advisory Council, but also Chaudhry from his office.