Economist says talk cancelled over extremist threats to university administration
Karachi’s Institute of Business Administration (IBA) on Thursday announced it had cancelled an online seminar on Pakistan’s economy, set to be addressed by renowned economist Dr. Atif Mian, which he said was prompted by threats to the university administration.
“Dr. Atif R. Mian’s lecture ‘Why has economic growth fallen behind in Pakistan?’ scheduled on Nov. 5, 2020, has been cancelled. Inconvenience is highly regretted,” read a post on IBA’s official Twitter account. In a subsequent tweet, Mian announced that it had been cancelled due to threats.
“Sorry to report that my Zoom economics seminar at IBA Karachi has been cancelled due to threats that the university administration was facing from extremists,” he said. “My very best wishes and prayers are with the students of IBA,” he added.
Dr. Mian, a widely respected economist who has Dr Mian served as a professor of economics, public policy and finance at Princeton University, and as director of The Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance at Woodrow Wilson School, is the only Pakistani to be cited in the International Monetary Fund’s “top 25 brightest young economists.”
He rose to prominence in Pakistan after the 2018 general elections, when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government appointed him to the country’s Economic Advisory Council, a panel set up to consult on its economic policy. Before Mian could even start working, however, the government asked him to step down due to pressure from rightwing political parties—as well as a coordinated social media smear campaign—over his Ahmadiyya faith.
Mian’s removal led to two other EAC members, Dr. Asim Ijaz Khwaja of the Harvard Kennedy School and London-based economist Dr. Imran Rasul, resigning from it in protest.
Pakistan, through a constitutional amendment, declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974 during the tenure of Pakistan Peoples Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The legislation was made more stringent during the tenure of Gen. Ziaul Haq, who made it a punishable offense for Ahmadis to either refer to themselves as Muslims or to claim their faith was Islam.
In a post on Twitter, Wendy Gilmour, Canada’s high commissioner to Pakistan, said she was very sorry to learn about IBA cancelling IBA’s talk. “An opportunity lost for the students and wider interested community,” she added.