Umar Saif’s grand claims: genuine progress or more rhetoric?

Umar Saif

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker IT Minister Umar Saif took to X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday and claimed that he is looking forward to completing the promises he made when he took oath in August last year.

The post, accompanied by an image alluded to a transient ministerial role, and made a grand promise without providing details on the unfulfilled promises made during his tenure.

For our readers, let’s briefly recount some of the ambitious promises the caretaker minister made upon assuming office, which – for now at least – remain unfulfilled; the auction and rollout of 5G spectrum, the revival of the defunct National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) after two decades, and the initiation of an IT export strategy aiming to boost Pakistan’s IT exports by $10 billion annually.

This post by the minister remains as unelaborated as the general progress on his tall promises; but a review of Saif’s recent statements on his social media account might shed some light on what the minister might have been alluding to in yesterday’s post.

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Responding to a question on digital payment platforms Stripe and Paypal being operational in Pakistan, he wrote “Soon. As promised.” Another question along the lines of communication technology, received this response from Saif, “Space policy has been approved to allow private sector to offer satellite communication”. However, these too, remain without substantiation, leaving the nature of progress uncertain.

Additionally, the minister engaged in meetings with foreign dignitaries, including the Ambassador of UAE in Pakistan H.E. Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Al-Zaabi, UK High Commission in Pakistan H.E. Jane Marriott, and the Pakistan McKinsey team. The outcomes of those meetings also remain shrouded in mystery.

One aspect, notably more concrete and arguably the only substantiated element amidst lofty, unsubstantiated assertions came earlier today (Wednesday), when Saif spoke on addressing the telecom sector’s disputes. In a post he shared that such disputes they will now be handled by a specialised tribunal instead of high courts. This will likely expedite legal resolutions and propel the sector forward.

As the promised initiatives’ countdown begins, the minister would be well-advised to prioritise tangible outcomes, and the need for substantive changes rather than rhetorical assurances in the targeted sectors.

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