Economists sign accord to protest Atif Mian’s ouster


–The letter already has more than 90 signatories, including 26 economists from Pakistan and eight Nobel Prize winners

Eminent economists and Duke University Professors Dani Rodik and Timur Kuran have urged their fellow economists to protest the ouster of Atif Mian from the government’s Economic Advisory Council by signing a letter that condemns the decision.

He claims that he already has more than 90 signatories, including 26 economists working in Pakistan and eight Nobel Prize winners.

Economists’ statement in support of Atif Mian says, “We, the undersigned economists, believe that Atif Mian would be a fantastic addition to the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) of Pakistan. Professor Mian is a first-rate economist with expertise in development economics, financial economics, and macroeconomics. Given this expertise, we believe that his participation in the EAC would be valuable for policy-makers, and his advice would improve the lives of the broader population of Pakistan.

Members of the Pakistani government pressured Professor Mian to resign from the EAC because of his religious beliefs. The decision by the Pakistani government to ask Professor Mian to resign from the EAC deprives the government of top economic talent. We express disappointment and disapproval of the decision to pressure Professor Mian to resign because of his religious beliefs. Such discrimination on the basis of religion should not play a role in deciding who can best serve the country.”

It is pertinent to mention that Atif Mian, a Pakistani-American economist and Princeton University professor, was evicted from the government’s EAC due to his religious beliefs, much to the dismay of many national and international economists.

Former interior minister and senior PML-N leader Prof Ahsan Iqbal condemned the decision saying only “talent and competency” should matter and “merit should not be mixed with religion”.

“Islam upholds principle of merit. Therefore, merit should not be mixed with religion. Talent and competency are most sought-after commodity today,” said Prof Iqbal.

Though Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has not publicly denounced the government’s ‘U-turn,’ one of its ministers in Sindh, former Sindh speaker Shehla Raza indirectly criticised the forces of bigotry and extremism by sacking her entire social media team over a ‘hate’ tweet directed at Atif Mian’s inclusion in EAC.

In her tweet she had criticised Imran Khan for including a member of the Ahmadi community in his recently constituted EAC. It generated unrest among a religious minority and inviting condemnation from social media users.

Eminent economist, writer and columnist, Dr Kaiser Bengali expressed strong opposition to withdrawal of Dr Atif Mian’s name from EAC. “This is in violation of the country’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech that had clearly defined the contours of the new state of Pakistan where every Pakistani will be free to practice his/her religion,” said Dr Bengali.

A minority community member and a rights activist Kapil Dev (right) also termed the decision of Atif Mian’s unceremonious exit having serious repercussions. He was of the view that the decision would not only strengthen narrative of the extremist forces in the country but would also alienate those who are non-Muslims.