New Delhi, Nov 30 : Pakistan President Arif Alvi said on Tuesday that the choice of venue for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Alvi Dental and an American company was a “poor judgement”, the Dawn reported.
Taking to Twitter, the Pakistan President — who is a dentist by profession — said that hosting an event for the signing of an agreement between his son Awab Alvi and Bringing Smiles USA at the Sindh Governor’s house “was a matter of poor judgement”.
The statement came after several citizens and politicians questioned whether there was a conflict of interest in the President attending a private event that was hosted at the Governor’s house, the report said.
During the event, which was held on Monday, an agreement was inked to provide affordable dental care to the citizens of the country. The MoU was signed by Awab Alvi of Alvi Dental Hospital and Anas Athar of Bringing Smiles USA, which was witnessed by President Alvi and First Lady Samina Arif Alvi.
Initially, the President had congratulated his son on the venture. “Wish you success in this collaboration with your friends, who are also bringing in foreign investment,” he said on Twitter in response to his son’s tweet.
A picture of the ceremony shared by Awab also showed the President standing in the background, the report said.
Social media in Pakistan is abuzz after the image of the MoU signing showed the President in attendance. Questions are being raised about the Pakistan President using his official position to benefit his family business, while others argued that this was merely a familial obligation, Geo News reported.
Alvi Dental is a private dental business run by the President’s son, from which Arif Alvi resigned after he was appointed the President in 2018.
However, the website of the practice still lists the President as a dentist and part of “Our Team”, even providing an option to ‘schedule an appointment’.
PML-N’s Ayesha Raza Farooq raised several questions about the event. “Why is this signing off taking place at the Governor’s house? Why is the President of Pakistan promoting his family’s business? Isn’t this a violation of his oath? Conflict of interest,” she asked, the Dawn reported.
Activist Asad Ali Toor wondered whether the President was using his official position to benefit his family business.
Responding to Alvi’s explanation, The Pak Daily founder Hamza Azhar Salam asked the President whether he would also attend a ceremony for his startup since he was all for supporting them, the report said.
“We started from scratch and have grown to become the fastest growing news organisation of Pakistan. Is your presence available for all sons of Pakistan or just yours,” he asked.
Hira Jaleel, a lawyer based in Lahore, said, “Since here it is the President’s son and not the President himself who is entering into an MoU, it cannot strictly be called a conflict of interest. That said, the fact that the President chose to officially publicise the event on Twitter and that it happened at the Governor House does reflect poor judgment, if not illegality. Optically, it would have been better for the President to have distanced himself from this transaction,” as per Geo News.
As per Geo News, a senior lawyer based out of Karachi, who asked not to be named, said that this is an egregious violation of basic principles of conflict of interest. Moreover, the use of Governor House and the presence of the President is illegal use of state resources and an offence under the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999, Section 9 (a) (iv).
It is also a violation of the President’s oath, which states that: “I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions.”