Now since that is out, let me also point out that this is not an article to simply bemoan the removal of Dr Umar Saif as Chairman, Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Vice Chancellor, Information Technology University (ITU). Several sound minds, from across academia and the political divide, have expressed their rightly felt shock and anger at this move and have been voicing them at several forums. Therefore, let me make two additional points. First, the manner in which Dr Saif was removed shows that there is no reward for merit and work in the Punjab, if not in Pakistan. Dr Umar Saif left a rather lucrative position in MIT and came back to Pakistan — why? Simply to serve his country. Over the last three years, I have seen several international organisations offer him jobs — often at dozens of times above his salary, but he had always refused them, preferring to work in his own country, for the betterment of his own people. Pakistan has been suffering brain drain for the last several decades, and the coming back of Dr Saif and his efforts in both PITB and ITU were signs that things were improving, and that merit and hard work was finally paying off in Pakistan. During his tenure at both institutions, Dr Saif convinced many a Pakistanis abroad to leave fairer pastures and return back to their motherland. But the manner in which Dr Saif was removed shows that sadly things are not very different still and a change of government can alter the course of institutions. Therefore, this removal will send a wrong signal to many expat Pakistanis who wish to help their country grow. It is certainly rather ironic that the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf had focused a lot on expat Pakistanis and has a lot of support among them, but alas this episode shows that perhaps they should stay where they are lest a political change might get them fired! Secondly, the way in which Dr Umar Saif was unceremoniously removed shows that the provincial government does not really care about the two institutions he helped build: PITB and ITU. Of course I am not saying that Dr Saif should have been at the helm of both indefinitely, but if the government had set its eyes upon removing him they could have done it in a much better manner. For example, PITB, a government department which runs several dozen projects at the same time, and not just in the Punjab but across the country and even abroad, has been given as an additional charge to the already overworked and busy Chairman of the Planning and Development Board. How this person will juggle these two enormous tasks is simply beyond me and I can only sympathise with him. Of course the most sensible way would have been to transition a person in over a period of three to six months. That way the new person could shadow and learn from Dr Saif, understanding the projects and their complexity, and then finally take over when he or she is ready. Such transitory periods are normal in the corporate world and there was no reason why it could not have been done in this case. The way in which Dr Umar Saif was unceremoniously removed shows that the provincial government does not really care about the two institutions he helped build: PITB and ITU. Of course I am not saying that Dr Saif should have been at the helm of both indefinitely, but if the government had set its eyes upon removing him they could have done it in a much better manner In the case of ITU, Dr Umar Saif had indeed appeared before the selection committee and been chosen as the Vice Chancellor of ITU for another period of four years, months ago on merit. Therefore, there was no real reason not to appoint him in an institution he had founded, and to replace him with a seventy-year-old retired economics professor. ITU is still in its infancy and leaving it without its mentor at such a young age could be a death knell to the rising university. Dr Saif head hunted each and every one of the professors in the university and has carefully charted its trajectory; abruptly cutting it short, and that too again without a transition, is not only unfair to the new incumbent, but also to the faculty and staff who came in primarily following the vision Dr Saif had laid for the institution. The above is not to say that both the institutions will certainly decline without Dr Saif — indeed he has built them strong, yet without a transition phase and lack of leadership which is not only trained in the relevant field but also has the time and expertise to run them is critical. Anything else is simply going to haemorrhage these institutions, and the loss is only going to be of Pakistan and its people. Dr Umar Saif will get another job — a more prestigious and high paying one, so for him this is not really a big deal; after all he is hardly forty years old! But we, as Pakistanis, must think what we are doing with our talent and how we are running our institutions. Certainly no one is indispensible and the government can certainly make changes, but to do so only on the basis of politics and without regard to its wider effect, especially on the institutions themselves, is callous. The writer teaches at IT University Lahore and is the author of ‘A Princely Affair: The Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan, 1947-55.’ He tweets at @BangashYK Published in Daily Times, November 20th 2018.