The government’s press release on a meeting between Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfikar Bukhari and Ivanka Trump, daughter of the President and an advisor in the Administration, seems overly optimistic given that nothing tangible was agreed to in the discussion highlighted. The press release stated that Ms Trump had expressed an interest in establishing development projects for women in Pakistan, but an expression of interest does not necessarily imply a windfall of developmental initiatives.

It is too early to tell whether Ms Trump’s White House-backed Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (WGDP) initiative – which has injected $27 million in 14 projects in 22 countries – will be effective, but there is more funding for the project on the cards given that the President’s new budget includes an additional $100 million. However, given that 120 countries participated in the grant process last time, it does seem that any statements made by Ms Trump about looking to include Pakistan are not backed by substance – Pakistan might be included in the selection process but there is no guarantee that any funds will come this way.

The meeting then, between Ms Trump and the SAPM comes off looking more like one between two celebrities than something that will lead to state-level cooperation. In any case, the SAPM has not had an eventful first year at the head of the Ministry he has been appointed to. Beyond work done on easing the process of remittances, there is little to show for doing anything for the workforce, male or female.

The Ministry should focus more on tangible steps to improve investment from overseas Pakistanis, but more importantly, there is a complete failure to work on issues of the workforce within Pakistan; improving skills, providing access to training and improving job availability are just some of the things the Ministry can work on starting now.

There were whispers of extended favours and nepotism when Mr Bukhari was appointed as SAPM, however, his international profile and connections to the business community outside of Pakistan imply that he might be qualified for the position he was given. However, social media accounts of the Ministry focus more on publicity of the SAPM and the ruling party rather than the work taking place under its oversight. A clear policy framework and concrete initiatives are needed, instead of all the hot air that is currently on offer.