Islamabad: In the aftermath of the unceremonious exit of the top-ranking economist, Dr Atif Mian, who belongs to minority Ahmadi community, from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC), prominent names in the country have spoken out against the government’s move. They have also expressed fears that it will not only negatively impact the country’s economy but will also alienate non-Muslims contributing in their respective fields to the country’s uplift.

Former Interior Minister and a senior leader of PML-N, Prof Ahsan Iqbal (right), condemned the decision saying only “talent and competency” should matter and “merit should not be mixed with religion”.

Responding after the government’s announcement to withdraw the name of Atif Mian from the EAC, Ahsan Iqbal termed it an unfortunate decision.

“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 Speaker of the Provinical Assembly Shehla Raza (right) has 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.

However, later, she apologised to social media users and the public at large explaining one of the members of the social media team she had hired during the election uploaded the tweet.

According to her tweet, she not only condemned and deleted that tweet but also fired the entire social media team responsible for it.

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-i-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.

This is not a matter related to one individual or a particular person. Pakistan belongs to all and after two resignations, I am wondering when conscience of the rest of the members of the EAC will awake and they too will render their resignations, said Kaiser Bengali.

Another renowned economist and columnist Khurram Hussain said not only the other two internationally recognised economists and top minds in economic matters — Dr Ijaz Khwaja and Dr Imran Rasul — have quit the EAC in solidarity with Atif Mian, tweets of condemnation are pouring in on social media from top economists and professors of the prestigious universities like Chicago, Berkley, LSE, MIT, Harvard and Oxford.

About the rest of the members of EAC, he said only a few of them mattered and could forward a genuine, fact-based advice in matters related to economy.

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

“Already Ahmadiya community along with other non-Muslim communities is facing persecution and oppression at the hands of the religious zealots and the latest decision to exclude them from key forums will further estrange the religious minorities of the country, said Kapil.

Not only minorities’ community, common Pakistanis have also criticised Imran Khan government’s decision of withdrawing Atif Mian from EAC. Members of academia of the country, writers, professors and students have protested against the decision.

Tahira Abdullah an activist raising her voice for women and religious minorities, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, workers and members of Awami Workers Party (AWP) took out a protest rally in front of National Press Club here in Islamabad and condemned the PTI-government’s religiously-motivated decisions. They called upon the government to stand on firm feet and instead of caving in to religious zealots face them bravely.