Not many will mourn the departure of Dr. Farrukh Saleem, the erstwhile government Spokesperson on Economy and Energy. A peddler of unsubstantiated claims, cooked facts, and free-wheeling theories on the economy, his appointment was met with ubiquitous shock and despair. Over the next few weeks these fears were confirmed as Dr Saleem went on to struggle with sustained questioning on television, was unable to back his claims with facts and was an overall spanner in any debate on the economy that was supposed to be grounded in reality.

However, that is not why he was removed by the government. Furthermore it is difficult to say if he was removed or never appointed in the first place. What should have been simple course correction by the government has instead become an exceedingly embarrassing controversy, and all the ire and laughter seems to be directed at the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain.

It was not Dr. Saleem’s fantasy economics that became his downfall, rather the fact that he had started criticising the government for its policies – criticisms that became viral on social media. While removing a spokesperson the minute he starts criticising the government speaks volumes about the government’s commitment to freedom of speech, the manner in which it was done is more problematic.

According to the Information Minister, since the official notification for his appointment was never issued, Dr. Saleem was never a government spokesperson to begin with, and hence everything he has said so far was his own personal opinion.

This convoluted logic is not only paper thin, it is plainly incorrect. The Information Minister had himself announced the appointment, the following day Mr Saleem had gone on private media channels and introduced himself as a government spokesperson, and wrote columns under the same byline. Never once was he stopped from doing so. Furthermore, Dr Saleem claims that he has sat in on government meetings, which makes the fact he was never appointed seem all the more questionable.