Akbar Ali Khan (economist)

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Akbar Ali Khan
Akbar Ali Khan.png
Native name আকবর আলি খান
Born 1944 (age 72–73)
Nabinagar, Brahmanbaria, Bengal Presidency, British India
Nationality Bangladeshi
Education Ph.D. (Economics)
Alma mater University of Dhaka
Queen's University
Occupation Economist

Akbar Ali Khan (born 1944) is a Bangladeshi economist and educationist who served as a bureaucrat until 2001.[1] He was a sub-divisional officer of Habiganj during the Bangladesh Liberation War when he decided to join the war. Later he served as an official of the Mujibnagar Government. After independence, he joined back the civil service and reached to the highest post of Cabinet Secretary. In the meanwhile, he also worked as a university teacher. Towards the end of 2006, he became one of the advisers of the Caretaker Government led by President Iajuddin Ahmed. He resigned along with three other advisers, namely, Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, C M Shafi Sami and Sultana Kamal which went against democracy and helped Lt. Gen. Moeen U Ahmed to take over power in disguise in January 2007 that lasted two years.[2] Sheikh Hasina claimed that Khan and his these associates failed to hold elections and thrown country into dark by resigning from Iajuddin Ahmed's Caretaker Government.[3][4] In October 2007, the Government of Bangladesh constituted a Regulatory Reforms Commission (RRC) with him as the chair. Following pressure from the government, he had to quit RRC.

Early life and education[edit]

Khan was born in Nabinagar, Brahmanbaria, a sub-division of the-then Comilla district. He attended Nabinagar High School. He passed I.Sc. from Dhaka College in 1961. He then studied history at the University of Dhaka and completed his bachelor's and master's from there in 1964 and 1965 respectively, with first class, topping list on both the occasions. Before joining the then Civil Services of Pakistan he served as a teacher in BUET for some time. After a foundation course at the Civil Service Academy in Lahore (1967–68), he was posted as the sub-divisional officer (SDO) of now defunct sub-district Habiganj in 1969. His uncle Yakub Ali Khan was a former Gov High official.[5]


During Bangladesh liberation war[edit]

Khan actively participated in the civil disobedience movement in March 1971 before the commencement of the war of liberation on 25 March 1971. When the war began, he decided to supply ammunition to the guerrilla fighters, yet in the capacity of the SDO of Habiganj. As the Mujibnagar government was yet to be formed and war of liberation remained to be formally launched, many police officers disagreed to give arms and ammunition without a written order. Khan fearlessly gave written note ordering to provide the freedom fighters with food and money. Collecting from the sub-divisional treasury, he arranged to send nearly three Crore taka to Agartala by a truck to help run the Bangladesh Government to be formed on 17 April 1971. Later he left Bangladesh, the then East Pakistan, and moved to Agartala, India across the border to physically participate in the war of liberation. He said, "After reaching Agartala we focused on building up an 'eastern administration'. Our main aim was to support the freedom fighters and to help the refugees who had escaped Bangladesh and lived in camps. We established a connection with the Mujibnagar Government after a few months of its formation on 17 April 1971. During the initial months, we had to struggle single-handedly". In July, he was asked to come to Kolkata (Calcutta) to join the government. There he began working at the Cabinet division as a deputy secretary. Later, in August, he was transferred to Defense Ministry.[5]

After 1971[edit]

After the independence of Bangladesh in the December 1971, Akbar Ali Khan was appointed in the Establishment Ministry of the government of Bangladesh. He worked there for six months and helped in the rehabilitation of the freedom fighters and also people who came back from Pakistan. From there he was transferred to the Education Ministry. In 1973 he decided to retire to take up teaching again as the profession. Although he submitted his resignation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then prime minister of the country, did not accept it. Instead, he was granted leave of absence with a lien to teach in a university. He taught at the Jahangirnagar University until receiving the Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue higher education. He studied at the Queen's University, Canada for Ph.D. in Economics. Upon his return to Bangladesh in 1979, he was shortly promoted to Associate Professor of the Jahangirnagar University. However, eventually, he left teaching and returned to Bangladesh Civil Service.

In 1984, he joined the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC) as a member of the directing staff (MDS). Thereafter, until 1987, he worked at the Rural Development Board, in the Water Resource Ministry and in the Bangladesh Public Service Commission. Later he was appointed in the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, D.C. as its economic minister.

After completion of his tenure in Washington, Dr. Khan returned home and joined the Banking Division of the Finance Ministry as an Additional Secretary. During the period he re-organized BCCI Bank and took over BASIC Bank.

He worked in the Environmental Ministry before his promotion as a permanent secretary to the government in 1993. In the capacity of Secretary, Internal Resources Division, he worked as the Chairman of the National Board of Revenue until 1995. Between 1995 and 2001, he worked as the Finance Secretary of the country. As he retired, government chose to nominate him as Alternative Executive Director of the World Bank, Washington where he served till 2005.[5]

Dhaka University scandals[edit]

During the period of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Prime Ministership, a scandal arose in the Dhaka University teachers about being Rajakar or not. As the Prime Minister asked the Education Minister to make an inquiry into the matter, he handed it over to Khan. Khan was apprehensive about this investigation as the law rejects the investigation which discarded it. So he filed an investigation as he was ordered and provided a note mentioning about his opposing points. Perusing his note of dissent, President Abu Sayeed Chowdhury asked the Education Minister to convince Prime Minister about Khan's points. In this connection, Dr. Khan said, "Every time I did not like or felt something that was against the law, I gave written notes, and in most cases, my experience is saying it was bound to be accepted".[5]

Current works[edit]

Retiring from World Bank, Khan established Centre for Government Studies at the BRAC University. Currently, he is working there as a visiting professor. Recently he has become a public face as he appears in different TV Talk Shows to explain the current political and economic situation of the country. Besides, he is researching the historic and economic process of the country.[5] On 30 October 2007, Khan was appointed the chairman of the Regulatory Reform Commission to modernise old and ineffective laws of the country.[6] However, he resigned from the post of Chairman of Regulatory Reforms Commission on 16 October 2009 citing the cause that the government is not co-operating with the work of the Commission.[7]


Asiatic Society of Bangladesh published his book History of Bangladesh where he explored the historical and social emergencies of Bangladesh as well as the growth of Islam in the country. In his economy related book "Porarthoporotar Orthoniti", he expressed the complex aspects of economic phenomenon in the lucid, unorthodox style of John Kenneth Galbraith.[5]


  1. ^ "বাংলাদেশ সুস্পষ্টভাবে স্থায়ী ও স্থিতিশীল রাষ্ট্র" [Bangladesh clearly a stable and permanent state]. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). March 26, 2017. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Hasina rejects interim govt formula". The Daily Star. October 29, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  3. ^ "'মুই কার খালুরে'" (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "তত্ত্বাবায়ক সরকার ফরমুলার জন্য আকবর আলি খানের তীব্র সমালোচনা প্রধানমন্ত্রীর" (in Bengali). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Zakaria, A. K. M. (18 August 2007). "আকবর আলি খান:কর্মপ্রাণ মগ্নপ্রাণ". Chutir Dine, Prothom Alo. 412. pp. 4–6. 
  6. ^ রেগুলেটরি রিফর্মস কমিশন গঠন: আকবর আলি খান চেয়ারম্যান. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 31 October 2007. p. 1. Archived from the original on 31 October 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2007. 
  7. ^ "Akbar Ali resigns as RRC chief". bdnews24.com. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2009.