…And the only buoyed up ‘winner’ in the PTI’s abrupt about-face in first laudably appointing and then abruptly removing an internationally renowned economist who just happened to belong to a minority sect from the government’s consultative Economic Advisory Council will be the extremist mindset and its sympathisers in mainstream political parties and elsewhere in society. Impulsive and erratic behaviour has turned the incumbent ‘leader’ of the free world into a ridiculous figure, an absurdity even for allies, and dipped his US public approval ratings to 36 percent at last count in the first nineteen months of his presidency. Imran Khan has not been shy or unfamiliar with U-turns during his rise to power, but too many somersaults can dangerously dent his present popularity, leaving even President Trump behind in the disapproval stakes in a relatively short time. The lifelong international exposure, the youthful playboy image, the Oxford education, the legendary cricketer who jousted successfully with the best of them, the confidence of winning the World Cup, his immense power as the country’s elected prime minister, his emphasis on merit, all came to nought when the time came to exhibit some spine in the face of brazen bigotry by a misguided few who negate the first principles of the Quaid-e-Azam and the values of a civilised society which treats its minorities with equality and respect.
There has been almost universal condemnation on social media regarding the manner in which the whole affair was handled, or mishandled, leaving eminent economist Atif Mian in the lurch, but Imran’s personal reliability and integrity will also suffer a considerable blow as a consequence, while the already sullied human rights image of the country would be further scandalised at the global level. The excuses, explanations and evasions trotted out by the government fool no one, they smack of complete capitulation against the threat of violent street power. An apology to the eminent economist is in order, and one feels that despite being treated with scorn and derision, he would not refrain from offering his expertise and services freely to his former homeland, if earnestly requested in future.