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

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.


India sends 36 ministers to restive Kashmir on charm offensive

Updated 18 January 2020

India sends 36 ministers to restive Kashmir on charm offensive

  • Ministers are on a five-day outreach mission to connect with people in the valley
  • The ministers’ visit follows a New Delhi-sponsored trip of 15 foreign ambassadors

NEW DELHI: India has dispatched dozens of ministers to its portion of the Kashmir region to promote government projects and development following months of unrest in the area.

Last August New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, imposing a security crackdown and a communications blackout. It is India’s only Muslim-majority state and scrapping its semi-independence was the central government’s bid to integrate it fully with India and rein in militancy.

Prepaid mobile and Internet services have been restored although most of the valley remains without the Internet. Landline and post-paid mobile services were restored last month. 

The 36 ministers are on a five-day outreach mission to connect with people in the valley, with media reports saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the delegation “to spread the message of development among the people, not only in the urban areas but also in the villages of the valley.”

He was also reported as asking them to tell people about central government schemes that will have grassroot benefits.

The ministers’ visit follows a New Delhi-sponsored trip of 15 foreign ambassadors to the region.

Jammu-based ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo said the ministerial trip tied in with New Delhi’s development agenda.

“The ministers will interact with local-level representatives and stakeholders, and discuss the plan for the development of Jammu and Kashmir,” he told Arab News. “Kashmir cannot go back to the old ways. There are no political issues that remain here, all have been sorted out by parliament by abolishing Article 370, division of the state and neutralization of separatist elements.”

But India’s opposition Congress party said the visit was an attempt to “mislead and misguide” the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“This is a third attempt to mislead and misguide the people of the world, Jammu and Kashmir and India. They are coming here for a third time to tell lies,” Congress leader and the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam, Nabi Azad, said.

Dr. Radha Kumar, from the Delhi Policy Group, said that a development agenda would not work without addressing the political issue.

“With all the unilateral decisions to abrogate the special status of the state, arresting all the mainstream leaders and putting the state in a lockdown, how are the government’s actions so far going to establish credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir?” Kumar told Arab News. “I think this visit is more for international consumption than anything else.”

Dr. Siddiq Wahid, a Kashmiri intellectual and academic, called the visit a “clear sign” that New Delhi had no idea what to do.

“No matter how many ministers you send to Jammu and Kashmir it’s not going to alter the ground situation, it’s not going to address the issue of alienation,” he told Arab News. “What issues will they talk about with people? The government lost the people’s trust long ago.”

The Himalayan region has experienced turmoil and violence for decades. It is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it. India’s portion has been plagued by separatist violence since the late 1980s.

Jammu-based Zafar Choudhary, a senior journalist and editor of The Dispatch newspaper, said Modi’s government was full of surprises. “There have never been so many surprises in Jammu and Kashmir as have come in the last two years,” he told Arab News. “There is no instance in the past when so many central ministers have visited a state in one go.”

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