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Friday, June 9, 2023

Questions over Pakistan Prez for using official position to advertise son’s dental practice

Fingers are being pointed at a potential conflict of interest of Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi who used his official position to benefit his family business and congratulated his son on Twitter, for bringing in foreign investment and wished him success.

The Pakistan president’s son, Dr Awab Alvi, recently took to Twitter to announce that his family business, Alvi Dental, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bringing Smiles USA, Geo News reported.

Alvi wrote that under the agreement the two companies will be opening up a chain of dental practices to bring affordable care to Pakistan.

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.

Alvi Dental is a private dental business run by the president’s son, from which Dr Arif Alvi resigned, states his son, after he was appointed 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’.

A senior lawyer based in Karachi, who asked not to be named, as per Geo News said 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.”

Asad Rahim Khan, a lawyer based in Lahore said this ceremony involves a private business, but is marked with the federation’s seal (through Governor Sindh), and with the president in attendance.

Pakistan has a history of family members benefiting from their closeness to the presidency, from field marshal Ayub onwards. As someone who protested against that regime, Alvi is well-aware of this trend, and promised to fight it. He must clarify how this is not a clear conflict of interest, he added, as per Geo News.

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.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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