ISLAMABAD - After the entire opposition parties except PPP in the Senate Tuesday submitted a call attention notice in the Senate Secretariat raising objections over the appointment of a member of the minority community in the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf defended the appointment.

The call attention notice signed by almost all opposition parties in the Senate except Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said: “The whole nation was in sheer disappointment over the appointment of Dr Atif R Mian” of Princeton University (Department of Member Economics and Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy) as the member of the 18-member EAC.

The EAC comprised of both eminent experts from private and public sector.

The lawmakers of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP), National Party (NP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP) and an independent lawmaker from FATA have signed the call attention notice.

The PPP has avoided to sign the call attention notice and has got praise on the social media for this act.

Since Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed EAC last week, a smear online campaign started against the leading economic expert and academic Dr Atif R Mian because of his Ahmadiyya faith. Under the constitution of Pakistan, Ahmadiyya community is a minority in Pakistan. However, intellectuals and some journalists on social media have defended this appointment, saying the constitution did not bar the members of the minorities’ communities for their appointments in such bodies or councils. They argued that religion should not reflect in the performance of professional duties.

In a twitter message, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said “Islam upholds principle of merit. Therefore, merit should not be mixed with religion. Talent and competency are most sought after commodity today.”

Khurram Hussain, senior journalist who covers economy, through Twitter said, “Simply disgusting to see the smear campaign against Atif Mian, He’s one of the smartest and most accomplished economists out there and sincerely wants to help this country. For how long will we continue to spurn our best minds for irrelevant reasons?”

“It is a question mark that the prime minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has appointed Atif R Mian as the member of EAC….the government should make clear its policy over this appointment,” the call attention notice moved by JUI-F Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman said. “I want to draw the attention of the House towards the important issue that Atif R Mian is a member of Ahmadiyya community and had been doing his duties as the in-charge of the financial affairs of London based centre of Ahmadiyya community,” it added.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry Tuesday in his media talk defended the appointment and questioned whether in Pakistan, a ban has been imposed on such roles of minorities. “Whether we will throw out minorities from the country, he said and expressed his surprise saying “who are these people (who are criticising over this appointment)”. He said that the whole world is predicting that Atif R Mian would get the Nobel Peace Prize in the next five years. ”He has been appointed in the ECA and not in the Council of Islamic Ideology,” he added.

The information minister said: “Pakistan belonged to minorities as much as it belongs to the majority”. He viewed that no one should criticise this appointment and those who are criticising they were basically extremists. “We will not bow before extremists,” he stressed. He said that it was not only the responsibility of government but of every Muslim to make sure protection of minorities.

Fawad Chaudhry also took to Twitter and said: “Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafar Ullah as Foreign minister of Pakistan, we’ll follow principles of Mr Jinnah, not of extremists.”

After the press talk of Fawad Chaudhry, many journalists and experts took to the Twitter and appreciated the government for its bold stance on the issue.

Senior political analyst Zaigham Khan in his Twitter message said: “This is the kind of bravery we need from our leaders. State belongs to all citizens irrespective of their faith, language, ethnicity and gender. Thank you @fawadchaudhry.”