IBA cancels important lecture over internal threats

Karachi, 22 October 2020: It was reported in numerous dailies on 23rd October 2020 that a scheduled lecture of Professor Dr. Atif Mian, an Ahmadi by faith, was canceled due to threats from extremists.

Following news item was published in the Daily Times on 23rd October 2020:

Extremists’ threats force IBA to cancel Dr Atif Mian’s lecture

Celebrated Pakistani-American economist Dr Atif Mian’s scheduled online has been canceled by the host Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, allegedly due to pressure by “extremists”.

“Dr Atif R. Mian’s lecture ‘Why has economic growth fallen behind in Pakistan?’ scheduled on November 5, 2020, has been canceled. 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 canceled “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.

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 religiopolitical 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’.

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 tweet. 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”.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/680827/extremists-threats-force-iba-to-cancel-dr-atif-mians-lecture/

People from different sections of society saw the issue in their own way; following tweets were found on social media.

“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,” IBA Karachi tweeted.

Unfortunately, the truth came out uglier than anticipated. It wasn’t extremist elements from the outside that compelled IBA to strip their students of such an opportunity. Allegedly, it was IBA’s own faculty.

One wonders if this is an environment that is conducive to learning and growing.

Shame on @ibakarachi & the Faculty members who are involved in this incident. Such extremists should be thrown out of our institutions. They are poisoning young minds. I wonder why we are not producing any great minds now after Dr Abdus Salam.

— I b r a h e e m 🇵🇰 (@eb_abraham) October 22, 2020

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.

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 tweet.

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