The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government on Tuesday defended a leading international academic appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), saying that Pakistan "belongs to minorities as much as it belongs to the majority".

The statement came from the Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary amidst a vicious online campaign targeting the academic for his Ahmadiyya faith.

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.

A large number of detractors, however, showed 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 Economic Advisory Council, 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 [the] principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists."

His thoughts were echoed by Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari, who tweeted: "Exactly. Well put indeed. Time to reclaim space for the Quaid's Pakistan!".

A call-to-attention notice had earlier been submitted in Senate today by opposition parties against Atif Mian's inclusion to the EAC.

The notice bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members.

No member of the PPP signed the document, with the party making it clear that it would not be part of a witch-hunt based on someone's faith.

Opinion

Gaming LNG
Updated 05 Aug 2021

Gaming LNG

What looked like rank incompetence about a year ago is now beginning to smack of malfeasance.
Healing the spirit
05 Aug 2021

Healing the spirit

ROC medal winners could not hear their national anthem being played.
Returning to a repressive order
Updated 04 Aug 2021

Returning to a repressive order

There is no sign of the Taliban showing any flexibility in their position and taking a more moderate stance.

Editorial

A tragic anniversary
Updated 05 Aug 2021

A tragic anniversary

Attempts to change IOK's demography should end and India must open channels with the genuine Kashmiri leadership.
05 Aug 2021

Currency pressure

THE increasing demand for dollars in the wake of surging imports and debt repayments has put significant pressure on...
05 Aug 2021

Protecting breastfeeding

A LOT has been said about the fact that 40pc of children under five years in Pakistan are stunted. The reasons...
PML-N’s dilemma
Updated 04 Aug 2021

PML-N’s dilemma

The road ahead for the PML-N is going to be long and bumpy no matter which narrative it follows.
04 Aug 2021

Attacks on cops

AMIDST cautious optimism that Pakistan may be finally beginning to achieve success in bringing the number of polio...
04 Aug 2021

Myanmar about-face

SIX months into the coup that sent Myanmar’s hybrid civ-mil government packing, the generals have made their...