Published in Dawn.com
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday defended a leading international academic appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Economic Advisory Council after a vicious online campaign, saying that Pakistan “belongs to minorities as much as it belongs to the majority”.
The appointment of Dr Atif R. Mian of Princeton University (Department of Member 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 individuals and groups, including Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), who objected to his Ahmadi faith.
A social media smear campaign erupted against the economist’s appointment, with many calling for his removal.
Others, however, have shown support for Mian, saying that one’s religion should not factor into their professional qualifications or employment.
During a press talk in Islamabad today, Chaudhry asked: “Should there be restrictions imposed on minorities in Pakistan? Should minorities in Pakistan be thrown out?”
“What kind of people say things like this?” Chaudhry wondered. “This is a man who the entire world is saying will receive a Nobel Peace Prize in the next five years. He has been appointed to the EAC, not the Council of Islamic Ideology or something else.”
“Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority,” he added.
“I don’t think anyone should have objections [to Mian’s appointment], and those who do, they are basically extremists and we will not bow to extremists,” he asserted.
“Protecting minorities is our responsibility. It is the religious duty of each Muslim, not just the government, to protect minorities and respect those that they live with,” Chaudhry said.
He also took to Twitter so share a message: “Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we’ll follow principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists.”
A call-to-attention notice was submitted in the Senate today against Atif Mian’s inclusion to the EAC.
The notice bears the signatures of PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members. There are no PPP signatures on the document, although PPP leader Shehla Raza was among those who criticised Mian’s appointment in a tweet that has since been deleted.