Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan forced to offload adviser from embattled community

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Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has been forced to backtrack on the appointment of an adviser from the country’s embattled Ahmadiyya minority.

Former cricketer Mr Khan’s administration allowed a US-based Princeton economist from the community to be appointed to an economic advisory council.

But the backlash from Islamic hardliners led Mr Khan to quickly rescind the appointment under political pressure, underlining the Ahmadis’ fraught position in the conservative, Muslim-majority country.

Ahmadis believe another Islamic prophet, Ahmad, appeared in the 19th century, a view at odds with the fundamental Islamic principle that Mohammed was the final messenger sent by God.

Pakistan Shunned Minority
A place of worship belonging to Ahmadis (B.K. Banagsh/AP)

Ahmadis have also long been targeted by Islamic extremists, and are shunned by many mainstream Muslims.

Religious parties have never done well in Pakistan’s elections, and July’s voting was no exception.

But the ability of hardline clerics to organise mass rallies and incite violence against political opponents has often forced even liberal governments to bow to their demands.

Mr Khan, the cosmopolitan former cricket star who ran on a populist platform of fighting corruption, is the latest leader to give in.

In early September, he appointed Atif Mian, a respected Princeton professor of economics, public policy and finance, to an economic advisory council.

Pakistan Mideast
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan (AP)

“The government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters,” Mr Mian said.

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