I won’t be a silent president, says new Pakistan president

“I will play my role to improve education and health sectors of the country, (and ensure the) provision of basic facilities to the common man while remaining within the constitution’s ambit,” Alvi said after being sworn in on Sunday. (AFP/File)
Updated 09 September 2018
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I won’t be a silent president, says new Pakistan president

  • Arif Alvi delivers message after being sworn in as the country’s 13th president
  • Can play a critical role in projecting a positive image of the country on the international stage, analysts say

ISLAMABAD: Assuming office as Pakistan’s 13th head of state on Sunday, Dr. Arif Alvi said that he would fulfill all responsibilities toward the development of the country and not be a “silent president.”
“I will play my role to improve education and health sectors of the country, (and ensure the) provision of basic facilities to the common man while remaining within the constitution’s ambit,” he said after being sworn in on Sunday.
Outgoing President Mamnoon Hussain’s five-year term ended on Saturday.




Dr. Arif Alvi being administered the oath as President of Pakistan by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad on Sept. 9, 2018.

Alvi, a founding member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, in a simple ceremony at the President House, in Islamabad.
Prime Minister Imran Khan attended the ceremony along with Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, Saudi and Chinese diplomats — including Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Media Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad.




Front row from left; Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Media Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad, Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Pervez Khattak, and Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad. (Photo courtesy: Screen grab/24 News)

Pitched against two challengers from the opposition parties, Alvi won the presidential election on Sept. 4 by securing 352 votes.
Political analysts said that while the role of the president is limited, Alvi can make his presence felt in the democratic setup.
“Pakistan is a vibrant democracy and in the parliamentary form of government, the president of the country has a limited constitutional role to play,” Professor Tahir Malik, an academic and a political analyst, told Arab News.
Malik said that as the founding member of the ruling party and a strong ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Alvi could “try to play a role for the unity of the nation on important issues like terrorism, sectarianism and water scarcity.”
Zaigham Khan, another political analyst, said that while he agrees with Malik, Alvi can still play a critical role by projecting a positive image of the country on the international stage.
“He is a vibrant and dynamic personality, and we hope he will utilize the public resources for the betterment of the people and this country,” Khan told Arab News.
In Pakistan, the president holds a symbolic place — the entire administrative authority lies with the prime minister and the president exercises his powers upon recommendations of the prime minister.
The president has, however, constitutional powers to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.
The prime minister is also bound under the constitution to keep the president informed on all matters of internal and foreign policy and on all legislative proposals that the federal government intends to bring before the Parliament.
Being head of the state, the president cannot interfere in administrative matters of the government but can advise the Cabinet on matters of policy.


Poor air quality: Malaysia tells citizens to stay indoors

Updated 8 min 41 sec ago

Poor air quality: Malaysia tells citizens to stay indoors

  • Nearly 1,500 schools closed as haze continues to plague the country

KUALA LUMPUR: As Malaysia’s haze problem worsened on Wednesday, some areas of the country recorded readings above 200 on the Air Pollution Index (API), which officials told Arab News is considered “very unhealthy.”

More than a million primary and high-school students stayed home as 1,484 schools remained closed in seven states, including Selangor and Sarawak — the two worst-affected states. 

In some areas of Sarawak, API readings were above 300, which is considered hazardous to the environment and human health. 

The Ministry of Education advised all higher education institutions in the haze-affected states to postpone their classes, while some companies and institutions, including the Ministry of Youth and Sports, asked employees to work from home.

Responding to the worsening situation, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamad stressed that Malaysia must deal with the haze issue on its own.

“We will have to find ways to deal with the haze, through cloud seeding, asking people to stay at home, and school closures,” he said at a press conference in Putrajaya. 

The Malaysia government also stressed that it will take legal action against Malaysian companies that own estates and plantations outside Malaysia which have contributed to the problem. 

“We will ask them to put out the fires (they have set). If they are unwilling to take action, we may have to pass a law that holds them responsible,” the 93-year-old Malaysian leader said.

The ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre reported that forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatera and Kalimantan regions have intensified, leading to an increase in the haze across the Southeast Asian region. Those fires, coupled with the dry weather conditions in certain areas, mean the air quality is expected to continue to deteriorate. The general public have been advised to stay indoors and to wear facemasks if they do have to go outside.

Benjamin Ong, a Kuala Lumpur-based environmentalist told Arab News that many Malaysians are concerned about the ongoing and worsening issue of haze, which has become an annual occurrence despite efforts by Malaysia, Indonesia and other Southeast-Asian governments to tackle the transboundary problem. 

“Outdoor activities are badly affected, including environmental activities like hiking and outdoor classes for kids,” Ong said, adding that many families are especially concerned about the pollution’s impact on their children’s education.

“The haze has been hanging around for at least 20 years, but the root causes have never been systematically tackled,” he added. “Distribution of masks, school closures and cloud seeding are only treating the symptoms, so to speak, and do not in any way make society more resilient to haze if and when it returns.”