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The power of conscience: Dr. Asim ljaz Khwaja of Harvard Kennedy School resigns in protest


News Analysis |

Renowned economist and academician Dr. Atif Mian has said that he had resigned for the sake of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s stability, which he said had been under a lot of adverse pressure from Muslim clerics and their supporters. “1/ For the sake of the stability of the Government of Pakistan, I have resigned from the Economic Advisory Council, as the Government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters,” Dr. Atif said.

Dr. Atif also said that it was part of his faith to serve the country. “2/ Nevertheless, I will always be ready to serve Pakistan as it is the country in which I was raised and which I love a great deal. Serving my country is an inherent part of my faith and will always be my heartfelt desire.”

He added, “4/ My prayers will always be with Pakistan and I will always be ready to help it in any way that is required.”

Dr. Atif R. Mian is an Ahmadi by faith and currently serving as a professor at Princeton University and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy.

It is important to mention here that after Dr. Atif’s inclusion in the council, there was a storm on social media against the government of PTI. Unfortunately, a call-to-attention notice had also been submitted in the Senate by opposition parties against Mian’s inclusion in the EAC. The notice bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members.

Read more: Atif Mian’s removal, a death of Jinnah’s dream

Initially, the government stood by its decision but when things started turning from bad to worse the government had to step down. The senator Faisal Javed tweeted and informed the nation that his government had requested Dr. Atif to resign.

Dr. Asim Ijaz Khwaja of Harvard also Resigned

In the evening, the same day, Dr. Asim Ijaz Khwaja, a professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and a leading international economist of Pakistani origin, also stepped down from the EAC in protest after the news of Mian’s resignation. “Have resigned from EAC. Painful, deeply sad decision. Grateful for a 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,” Dr. Asim said.

Bad Name to Pakistan?

Activists and scholars from across the world were disappointed by the decision of the PTI’s government. It was expected that the government would treat people on merit, and not on the basis of their faith. This treatment of individuals on the basis of their faith has caused a bad name to Pakistan. A researcher tweeted and said “The high number of world-leading economists tweeting about the absurdity of removing Atif Mian is feeding into our image of a bigoted state. An image we absolutely deserve.”

Michael Kugelman, an expert of South Asia, has also expressed the same feeling and said “Important thread. Mian’s removal is being noted worldwide, and will deliver another blow to Pakistan’s global image.”

Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan has called the termination of Mr. Mian’s services as an EAC member as “indefensible and very disappointing.” Ms. Jemima is has been pro-Naya Pakistan of Imran Khan. But at this moment she did not defend what she termed as “indefensible”.  “Indefensible & v disappointing. New Pak gov asks renowned & respected Prof of economics to stand down because of his Ahmadi faith. NB: The founder of Pakistan, “Quaid-I-Azam” appointed an Ahmadi as his Foreign Minister.”

It is important to mention here that Chaudhry Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan was a Pakistani jurist and diplomat who served as the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan and the first Asian and the only Pakistani to preside over the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice. And, Sir Zafarullah Khan was a declared Ahmadi.

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