Umar Saif Rebuts PTI's Arslan Khalid On PITB, ITU Allegations

Umar Saif Rebuts PTI's Arslan Khalid On PITB, ITU Allegations
In another Twitter confrontation, information technology professional and academic Dr. Umar Saif refuted a number of statements or allegations that Dr. Arslan Khalid, IT adviser to the Punjab chief minister during PTI's era in government, had leveled on the social media platform.

Dr. Umar Saif is a world-renowned Pakistani computer scientist and innovator who has over a decade of experience in operationalising high-tech solutions to governance problems and improving public service delivery in the Punjab province. He received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge at the age of 22, after which he returned to Pakistan to teach computer sciences as an associate professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

Dr. Saif also served as chairman of Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) from 2011 to 2018, and as first vice chancellor of Punjab's Information Technology University (ITU) from 2013 to 2018. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2014, and is regularly featured among the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

Dr. Arslan Khalid is an MBBS doctor and is most well-known for spearheading and coordinating PTI's social media campaigns and cohorts. He was also the subject of a leaked audio recording, where he can be heard taking instructions from former first lady Bushra Bibi to declare all those who opposed former Prime Minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan as "traitors" to Pakistan.

It all began with Dr. Saif responding to a comment on Twitter asking him to render his expertise and services for Pakistan. A Twitter user claimed that it was in their personal knowledge that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had offered Dr. Umar Saif to become IT minister in the federal government.

Dr. Saif confirmed that the premier was "very kind to offer multiple times" the position of federal IT minister to him, but he "respectfully and with a heavy heart" had to decline each time. Dr. Saif said he doesn't see himself working for the Pakistani government: "the reasons for this should be obvious ... and PTI and its supporters and abetters need to think about the damage they've caused," he wrote in a tweet.

Dr. Saif further clarified that he wasn't pointing towards PTI's online trolling, but how "its abetters brought down a government, triggered unending turmoil and punished everyone who worked for the government" thereby doing "irreparable damage to many institutions and and professionals".

"The university I setup is without a full-time vice chancellor for close to 5 years. No one bothered to even find a full-time replacement for me at PITB... Their best replacement for me at PITB was the head of their social media troll brigade. PKLI was almost shut down. It's a never ending list," Dr. Saif lamented.

Dr. Umar Saif also castigated PTI for having trolled the whole country.

Perceiving an affront at being labeled "the head of PTI's social media troll brigade", Dr. Arslan Khalid replied to Dr. Umar Saif in order to "get a few facts right". Dr. Khalid stated that he respects Dr. Umar Saif and his "political inclination" but asked Dr. Saif to "reconsider this insecurity" where he thinks only one man (he himself) is competent. "We already have enough challenges in the IT industry and it requires respect and unity among industry players irrespective of political or personal inclinations," Dr. Arslan Khalid's tweet concluded.

A Twitter user was quick to point out how Dr. Umar Saif was addressing another person as "sir" while Dr. Arslan Khalid addressed Dr. Umar Saif by name.

A little over 20 minutes after Dr. Arslan Khalid tweeted his rejoinder, Dr. Umar Saif replied to it in particularly combative fashion.

Dr. Saif began by clarifying that he had "zero respect" for Dr. Arslan Khalid and his "hypocrisy of running the PTI troll brigade while pretending to be an 'IT professional'". "Your contribution to PITB was to organise political rallies of PTI in universities in the name of 'digital skills' and trying to recruit PTI paid trolls on PITB payroll," Dr. Saif retorted.

Dr. Umar Saif responded to claims that Dr. Arslan had made with respect to both PITB and ITU, calling it "criminal negligence" on the part of PTI as well as Dr. Arslan who "jumped at the first chance to become the 'IT Minister' to leverage PITB for running PTI social media campaigns," according to Dr. Saif.

"For all the filth on social media, baseless allegations and anti-state agenda you have peddled over the years, you should be in jail. But here you are, lecturing me about professionalism," Dr. Saif's tweet concluded.

In response, Dr. Arslan said that he could testify on oath that all of Dr. Saif's allegations were wrong.

Dr. Khalid tweeted that he was "not intetested in wasting my time over here and writing more facts" and ended his reply with "best wishes" for Dr. Saif.