Following the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s decision on Friday to remove Dr. Atif Mian from its Economic Advisory Council, two additional members of the 18-member body have tendered their resignations in protest.
London-based Dr. Imran Rasul and U.S.-based Dr. Asim Ijaz Khwaja both announced, on Twitter that they were stepping down from the council.
Dr. Khwaja, a professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, said he could not compromise on his values by participating in the EAC. “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,” he said shortly after news of Mian’s removal went public.
A day later, Dr. Rasul, a professor of Economics at University College, London, posted a series of tweets in which he also announced his separation from the EAC. “With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this morning. The circumstances in which Atif was asked to step down are ones I profoundly disagree with. Basing decisions on religious affiliation goes against my principles, or the values I am trying to teach my children,” he said, adding “Truth be told, if there was one academic on the EAC that Pakistan needs, it was @AtifRMian.” He concluded his resignation by wishing the government and EAC “luck in their future work.”
On Friday, the PTI-led government backed down over its decision to appoint Atif Mian, a MIT-educated Pakistani-American economics professor at Princeton University, to the EAC. Mian’s appointment had provoked controversy due to his Ahmadiyya faith, which designates him a non-Muslim under Pakistan’s Constitution. While the decision had initially been defended, with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry vowing his government would “not bow to extremists,” the government soon caved to mounting pressure from the religious right.
Confirming his ouster, Mian said he had stepped down because the “Government was facing a lot of adverse pressure… from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters.” He said his prayers would always be with Pakistan and “I will always be ready to help it.”