Published:  12:47 AM, 09 September 2018

Bigotry forces out an expert

The new government in Pakistan is beginning to show the old signs of ineffectual governance. It has just asked Atif R. Mian, a Princeton economist and Pakistani national, to resign from the Economic Advisory Council recently formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Mian has agreed to resign and by now is out of the EAC. 

The decision by the Pakistan government to have the respected economist go even before he could begin working at the EAC is a volte face by the authorities, seeing that only days ago the country's information minister had vowed that Mian would be on the council and that politico-religious pressure to remove him was unacceptable.

That statement was followed by even more strident moves by Pakistan's religious fanatics against the appointment, with the result that Atif Mian has now been forced out.

The fault of the economist is the Ahmadiyya faith he practices. In Pakistan, Ahmadiyyas are considered a religious minority, having been declared as such by the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government in the early 1970s. Ahmadiyyas have been persecuted in Pakistan for years, with a good number of them accused of blasphemy and some of them even getting murdered. 

The problem for Mian was the usual one manufactured by the bigots who have always dominated Pakistani politics. For such elements, the presence of an Ahmadiyya in a significant position is apostasy. 

Indeed, the very fact that Pakistan's first foreign minister, Chaudhury Zafrullah Khan, was an Ahmadiyya and served in Mohammad Ali Jinnah's government has led Pakistan's politicians and rightwing historians to airbrush him out of history.

The appointment of Atif Mian to the EAC and then his forced removal makes Imran Khan's promise of a Naya Pakistan rather hollow. Little of change can be expected from a government whose rise to power happened under dubious circumstances.

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