I knew the bubble would burst, but didn’t think so soon. Perhaps in a generation, average Pakistanis were treated to hope, and then the delight of actually witnessing the rise of a party with a platform for viable, sincere change. As a Pakistani-American, I am used to rejoicing American successes. Lately, the gaffes of Donald Trump and the international embarrassment that he is for us Americans was made better by the election of Imran Khan and the integrity, optimism, and change that he personified. And then it all came crashing down. It was not widely advertised that Dr Atif Mian had been chosen to serve on the Economic Advisory Council by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. Unfortunately, I watched the video of Hassaan Hashmi, an anchor on a television channel, interviewing Ahmad Raza Kasuri. Hashmi had pre-decided that Dr Atif Mian would not serve on the EAC due to his Ahmadi faith. Kasuri shot down all of Hashmi’s bigoted questions and spoke of the inclusivity of all under Pakistan’s Constitution, as well as the fact that Dr Mian had not been appointed to draft any religious laws, and thus his appointment was entirely appropriate. I woke up the next day to the headlines that the PTI government had caved under pressure from a Senate resolution that bore the signatures of the PML-N, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party members. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) did not sign the resolution, but it did not endorse Dr Mian’s appointment either. Politics got in the way of principle. The PPP has forgotten the sacrifice of Shaheed Governor Salman Taseer and how he did not let political expediency interfere with his principles. The religious right has never won a clear majority in Pakistan. It only serves as the squeaky wheel that gets the reluctant grease. Let’s meet Professor Dr Atif Mian: he has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT and is a Professor of Economics, Public Policy, and Finance at Princeton University and the Director of Public Policy and Finance at the Woodrow Wilson School. At the age of 43, he is thought to be one of the top 25 young economists of the world and the first one of Pakistani origin. He is considered to be in the running of possibly receiving the Nobel Prize within the next five years. The issue that Pakistan faces with its Rs. 30 trillion debt is not a simple one. Finance Minister Asad Umar recruited the help of all and sundry after PTI’s election victory, because the problems are complex and extremely challenging, especially for regular minds. What an amazing asset brilliant minds like Dr Mian would be! Hashmi had pre-decided that Dr Atif Mian would not serve on the EAC due to his Ahmadi faith. Kasuri shot down all of Hashmi’s bigoted questions and spoke of the inclusivity of all under Pakistan’s Constitution The PTI should be credited for appointing him to the EAC and facing opposition for several days. Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry did well initially and said: “He has been appointed to the Economic Advisory Council, not the Council of Islamic Ideology” and “Pakistan belongs as much to minorities as it does to the majority,” as well as saying “I don’t think anyone should have objections [to Mian’s appointment], and those who do, they are basically extremists and we will not bow to extremism”. He went on to say “protecting minorities is our responsibility. It is the religious duty of each Muslim, not just the government, to protect minorities and respect those that they live with,” and that “Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Sir Zafarullah as Foreign minister of Pakistan; we’ll follow [the] principles of Mr. Jinnah, not of extremists.” Within two days yielding completely to extremist elements, and removing Dr Mian from the EAC, is whiplashing. The pretext that they don’t wish to divide Pakistan and that Imran Khan and his cabinet have a great love for the Prophet (SAW) leave you confused. Yielding to the bullying of the religious parties, the government is further mainstreaming hate, bigotry and sectarianism. Like with the PPP, politics has trumped principle. No serious test has come up in the last three weeks since the PTI took over the government. The EAC appointment of Dr Atif Mian was the first test and the PTI failed ignominiously. It is unjust to raise the nation’s hopes so amazingly high and then let them down so fast. It is wrong to say that they do not want to divide the nation by his appointment when this removal actually terrifies the nation and assures the bigots that they can pull this again. How can this religious lobby be allowed to hold the nation hostage? What does belief in and love for the Prophet (SAW) have to do with an economic appointment? When you have a complicated medical problem do you search out a doctor that shares your religious belief to a tee or do you try to find one with the best practice history and reputation? Imran Khan in his first address claimed that he wishes to make Pakistan into the welfare state that Madinah was in the time of the Prophet (SAW). In times of stress or uncertainty, Muslims should always consider what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would have done. Dispassionate reflection will tell us that he (SAW) would have employed the best and the most brilliant for the nation, regardless of their race, ethnic origin or religious persuasion. His (SAW) Sunnah is replete with wisdom, vision, and tolerance. Pakistan should outlaw the hate and divisiveness that bigots like Hassaan Hashmi and the religious right promote. When you cow down to a bully, you empower them. Vacillation and capitulation create a crisis of confidence, which in turn bode a poor prognosis, especially when they occur so soon and so completely. Dr Mahjabeen Islam is a writer and addiction and family medicine specialist residing in Ohio. firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 9th 2018.