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IBA Karachi cancels Dr Atif Mian's lecture after 'threats from extremists'

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi has cancelled a scheduled online seminar that was to feature celebrated economist Dr Atif Mian, the university announced on Thursday, allegedly due to pressure by "extremists".

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"Dr Atif R. Mian’s lecture 'Why has economic growth fallen behind in Pakistan?' scheduled on November 5, 2020, has been cancelled. Inconvenience is highly regretted," read a brief post by the IBA Karachi's official Twitter account

In a tweet, Mian said he was sorry to report that the seminar, which was to take place over Zoom, had been cancelled "due to threats that the university administration was facing from extremists".

"My very best wishes and prayers are with the students of IBA," the Princeton University economist wrote.

A spokesperson for IBA Karachi declined to comment when approached

Dr Mian became a widely discussed name in Pakistan in 2018 after the PTI government appointed him to the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Economic Advisory Council (EAC), an 18-member panel set up to advise the newly-formed government on economic policy.

Less than a month after taking office, however, the government asked Mian to step down from the EAC amid mounting pressure from religio-political parties and a smear campaign launched on social media seeking his removal over his Ahmadiyya faith

In protest over Mian's exclusion, two other EAC members — Prof Dr Asim Ijaz Khwaja of the Harvard Kennedy School and London-based economist Dr Imran Rasul — had also resigned from the council.

Dr Mian has served as a professor of economics, public policy and finance at Princeton University and as director of The Julis-Rabinowitz Centre for Public Policy and Finance at Woodrow Wilson School. He is the only Pakistani to be considered among the International Monetary Fund’s ‘top 25 brightest young economists’.

Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment passed on September 7, 1974, during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

This measure was later followed with Gen Ziaul Haq making it a punishable offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to refer to their faith as Islam

'An opportunity lost'

Academics, journalists and others expressed regret over the cancellation of Mian's lecture at IBA Karachi.

"So terrible. What a loss! We are all hostages," wrote sociologist and academic Nida Kirmani

In a message of support, US-based political science professor Adnan Rasool termed Mian "a graceful and patient man".

"You have shown more poise in the face [of] hate than most would ever in their lifetime," he said.

Wendy Gilmour, Canada’s high commissioner to Pakistan, said the development was "an opportunity lost for the students and wider interested community".

Journalist Zarrar Khuhro questioned why the university had arranged the Atif Mian lecture in the first place, saying it was "not rocket science" to predict that the programme would receive a backlash.

"Why do it if you cannot withstand pressure?" he wrote


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India's River Diversion Plan and South Asia's Waters

More dams are to come, as India’s need to power its economy means it is quietly spending billions on hydropower in Kashmir. The Senate report totted up 33 hydro projects in the border area with Pakistan. The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, says dams will add an extra 3,000MW to the grid in the next eight years alone. Some analysts in Srinagar talk of over 60 dam projects, large and small, now on the books. (This special report has appeared in the Bulletin on Current Affairs - February 2012, you may have to Buy the print edition to read full story)

More in the Edition:

South Asia's Water - a growing rivalry

Indian, Pakistani & Chinese Border Disputes

India's River Diversion Plan: Its impact on Bangladesh

Water Crisis can Trigger nuclear war in South Asia

Reclaimed Water - the Western Experience

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