Arif Alvi sworn in as Pakistan’s new president

Islamabad | Arif Alvi, a close ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan and one of the founding members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was sworn in as Pakistan’s new president on Sunday.

The 69-year-old dentist was administered the oath of office as Pakistan’s 13th President by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar at a simple ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) here.

The oath-taking ceremony was attended by top civil-military brass including Prime Minister Khan and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Saudi Information Minister Awwad Bin Saleh Al Awwad were also present at the event. Dr. Alvi had defeated Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Aitzaz Ahsan and the Pakistan Muslim League-N nominee Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a three-way presidential contest.

In Pakistan, the President is considered as a symbol of the federation and head of the state and exercises all powers on the recommendations of the prime minister. Alvi belongs to Karachi and comes from a family that migrated to Pakistan after partition. His predecessors Mamnoon Hussain’s family came from Agra and Pervez Musharraf’s parents migrated from New Delhi.

He shares an interesting connection with India as his father Dr. Habib ur Rehman Elahi Alvi was a dentist to India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, according to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Alvi started his political career about five decades ago when he was a student of de’Montmonrency College of Dentistry, an affiliate of the University of Punjab in Lahore. He was part of the students’ wing of Jamaat-i-Islami (JIH) and protested against military ruler Ayub Khan.

“During one of the protests on the Mall Road in Lahore, he was shot at and wounded, and still proudly carries a bullet embedded in his right arm as a mark of his struggle for democracy in Pakistan,” according to the PTI website. He participated in elections from the JIH in 1979 but lost. Later he became disillusioned with the politics of the JIH and joined the PTI as one of its founding members in 1996. He also helped in writing the Constitution of the new party. Alvi contested his first election for the PTI in 1997 but lost. His affiliation with the party continued and he steadily rose in its ranks.

He was the Secretary-General of the party from 2006 till 2013. In 2013 he was elected as a Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from Constituency NA-250 Karachi and was re-elected in July 2018. Apart from his political struggle, Alvi is also a professional dentist.

He acquired his dental degree BDS (Dentistry) from de’Montmonrency College of Dentistry and Master of Science degree in Prosthodontics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1975 and Master of Science in Orthodontics in 1984 from University of the Pacific, San Francisco. In 1997, Alvi was declared a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. He was the primary author of the constitution of the Pakistan Dental Association and has been elected the President of the Pakistan Dental Association.

The new President is married to Samina Alvi and the couple has four children. With his close ally Alvi as President, Prime Minister Khan can smoothly implement his agenda, according to observers.

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