'Naya Pakistan' Looks Familiar: Dr. Atif Mian Forced to Step Down from EAC

Dr. Atif Mian’s appointment to the 18-member EAC was predictably going to create controversy throughout Pakistan, but the events that have transpired today are indicative of just how futile it is to demand a ‘Naya Pakistan’ with an archaic, almost primitive, hive mind religio-political mentality.

Mian, a world renowned economist from Princeton University who belongs to the Ahmadi faith, was handpicked by Imran Khan to sit at the Economic Advisory Council set up to advise the government on economic policy. Over the course of last week, a merciless smear campaign was launched across social media demanding his removal from the council due to his Ahmadi faith. The smear campaign was spearheaded by Tehreek-i-Labbaik, and culminated in a call-to-attention notice co-signed by PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members, which proved to be successful in pressurizing the PTI government in removing Atif Mian’s nomination.

This decision comes as a shock to the country, who a mere few days ago wholeheartedly denounced the smear campaign stating that they will “not bow to extremists”.

 

Earlier today, however, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s tone changed completely, saying the government had decided to rescind Mian’s appointment because it wants to avoid rifts amongst the people and party politics.

 

It should be noted that this incident is not an isolated case of religious ideology permeating into social and political affairs. Earlier this year, PML-N lawmaker Captain Safdar announced the removal of Dr. Abdus Salam’s name from the physics department of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad on the basis of religious prejudices.

As can be seen, ‘Naya Pakistan’ is one that overlooks merit and submits to political pressures asserted by hard-lining extremists, political posturing and collusion to attain mutually beneficial political outcomes. It is no ‘Naya Pakistan’ at all.