President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said that the choice of venue for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Alvi Dental and an American company was "poor judgement".
Taking to Twitter, the president — who is a dentist by profession — said that hosting an event for the signing of an agreement between his son Dr 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 also hosted at the Governor's House.
During the event, which was held on Monday, an agreement was inked to provide affordable dental care to the citizens of country. The MoU was signed by Awab Alvi of Alvi Dental Hospital and Dr 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.
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.
Activist Asad Ali Toor wondered whether the president was using his official position to benefit his family business.
Journalist Fahad Desmukh shared a screenshot of an old tweet by Prime Minister Imran Khan in which he had stated that Hazrat Abu Bakr had closed down his clothes shop when he became Khalifa. "President Alvi doesn't have a clothes shop so its all good," he said.
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.
"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.
PML-N's Khawaja Saad Rafique said that despite politics, the two had a relationship based on mutual respect. "But after you became president, a lot of complaints have arisen," he said, adding that Alvi should not have sacrificed his principles.
Meanwhile, Awab Alvi defended his father, saying he had resigned from Alvi Dental when he assumed office. "This venture is between me and my Pakistani US diaspora dentist-alumnus friend," he said.
He stated that President Alvi encourages all startups and is "on record to have hosted a startup in dentistry at the presidency last year".
"His love for dentistry will not end whether it is toothbrushing directions from the Presidential Office or his effort for international standard quality dental care in Pakistan," he said.
Awab added that the original venue for the event was Alvi Dental. "But to avoid inconvenience because of security to APS school right next to us, it was changed," he said.
"In retrospect we could have avoided it but any catering that was done was paid by me, personally," he concluded.
Additional input from APP