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Pakistan government in trouble as second economist quits EAC over Atif Mian withdrawal

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: In what is being called a domino effect, a second economist has tendered his resignation from the government’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) following the withdrawal of US-based famed academic Dr Atif R. Mian, who was asked to step down from the body due to backlash over his Ahmadiyya faith.

“With a heavy heart, I have resigned from the EAC this morning,” Dr Rasul, a professor of economics at University College, London, said in a tweet.

Also read: Asif Khawaja resigns from EAC in protest over Atif Mian withdrawal

The economist said he “profoundly disagree[s]” with the circumstances in which Mian was asked to resign from the council.

EAC’s new composition

The first meeting of the recently reconstituted 18-member EAC was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday. With the resignation of Dr Rasul, all three international economists of Pakistani origin on the council are no longer part of the advisory body.

Out of the remaining 15 members, seven belong to the government and eight are from the private sector.

The members of the council from the private sector are: Dr Farrukh lqbal, Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration; Dr Ashfaque Hassan Khan, Principal and Dean of School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology; Dr ljaz Nabi, Professor of Economics, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute; Dr Asad Zaman, Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics; Dr Naved Hamid, Professor of Economics at Lahore School of Economics; Syed Salim Raza, former Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, and economist Sakib Sherani.

The official members of the council are: Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umer, Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Division Khusro Bakhtiar, Secretary of Finance Division Arif Ahmed Khan, Governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood and the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

“Basing decisions on religious affiliation goes against my principles, or the values I am trying to teach my children.”

In a series of tweets, Dr Rasul spoke in favour of Mian’s appointment to the advisory council, saying “if there was one academic on the EAC that Pakistan needs, it was [Atif Mian]”. He added that the formation of the EAC and the panel’s composition offered a great opportunity to devise a better economic policy.

Also read: Govt capitulates to pressure; Atif Mian asked to step down

“Resolving the macro and fiscal mess the country is in will lay the bedrock for social protection, poverty alleviation policies and other economic reforms the country also needs,” he reminded.

Wishing the government and the EAC luck in their future undertakings, the professor said he remains willing to offer “non-partisan, evidence-based advice” that can help improve economic policymaking in Pakistan.

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