Akbar Ali Khan (Bengali: আকবর আলি খান) is a Bangladeshi economist and educationist who served as a bureaucrat until 2001. He was the SDO of Habiganj during the Bangladesh Liberation War, when he decided to join the war. Later he served as an official of theMujibnagar Government. After the independence he joined back the civil serviceand reached to the highest post of Cabinet Secretary and also worked as a university teacher. Towards the end of 2006, he became one of the advisers of the Caretaker Government for a brief period which was led by President Iajuddin Ahmed. He resigned along with three other advisers Sultana Kamal, C M Shafi Sami and Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, after a series of disagreements which included army deployment in the country with the Chief adviser and President Iajuddin Ahmed. In October 2007, the Government of Bangladesh constituted a Regulatory Reforms Commission with him as the chair. Dr. Khan is reputed for integrity, pragmitism and uncompromising attitude. His book Porarthoporotar Orthoniti (Economics of Other-minding) has been a popular book on economics à la Galbraith.
Akbar Ali was born in Nabinagar, Brahmanbaria, a sub-division of the-then Comilla district. He attended Nabinagar High School. He got admitted to the Dhaka College and passed I.Sc. (now HSC) from there in 1961. Then he studied history at the University of Dhaka and completed his Bachelors and Masters from there in 1964 and 1965 respectively, with first class, topping list on both the occasions. Before joining the then Civil Service of Pakistan he served as a teacher for some time. After 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.
Akbar Ali actively participated in the civil disobedience movement in March 1971 before the commencement of the war of liberation on 25 th March 1971. When the war began, he decided to supply ammunition to the guerrilla fighters, still 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 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.
After 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 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 as Associate Professor of the Jahangirnagar University. However, eventually he left teaching and returned to Bangladesh Civil Service.
In 1984, he joined the 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 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.
During the period of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Prime Minister ship 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 in to the matter, he handed it over to Akbar Ali 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".
Retiring from World Bank he 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. On 30 October 2007, Khan was appointed the chairman of the Regulatory Reform Commission to modernize old and ineffective laws of the country. However, he resigned from the post of Chairman of Regulatory Reforms Commission on 16 October 2009 sighting the cause that the government is not co-operating with the work of the Commission.
Asiatic Society of Bangladesh published his book History of Bangladesh where he explored the historical and social emergences of Bangladesh as well as the growth of Islam in the country. In his economy related book "Porarthoporotar Orthoniti" (tr. Economics of Otherminding), he expressed the complex aspects of economic phenomenon in the lucid, unorthodox style of J. K. Galbraith.