Dr. Arif Alvi has been elected as the 13th president of the country of Pakistan. Dr. Alvi completed the orthodontic residency program at the University of the Pacific in 1984.
Dr. Eugene Roberts, professor emeritus of the Department of Orthodontics at the Indiana University – Purdue University School of Dentistry, was a faculty member at the University of the Pacific when Dr. Alvi was an orthodontic resident at the university.
“The major thing that stands out in my memory of Dr. Alvi is that he had a strong interest in interdisciplinary practice which was very forward-thinking at that time,” says Dr. Roberts. “He had already completed the residency program in prosthodontics at the University of Michigan, entered practice, and then discovered how important orthodontic treatment is in many cases involving prosthodontics. He therefore made the decision to complete an orthodontic residency. He went on to establish a large interdisciplinary practice in Pakistan, headquartered in Karachi.
“The last time that I was in touch with him was several years ago when he invited me to speak at the Asia Pacific Dental Congress,” Dr. Roberts continues. “I was aware that he was interested in local politics as well as dental leadership – but had not realized he had an interest in national politics until he became a member of the Pakistani parliament.”
Dr. Jetson Lee of San Francisco was a senior dental student at the University of the Pacific when Dr. Alvi was a second-year resident. Dr. Lee got to know the graduating residents, including Dr. Alvi, through frequent visits to the orthodontic clinic. An alumni leader who has stayed in touch with many of his fellow graduates, Dr. Lee was in contact with Dr. Alvi just before the Pakistani presidential election. They discussed via email some of the challenges of Dr. Alvi’s career in orthodontics that may have helped him prepare for the stresses of political leadership.
“In an email that Dr. Alvi sent the day before the election, he reflected on some of the experiences in his orthodontic career, including coming to the United States in 1992 for his Orthodontic Boards – only to have his briefcase with all original X-rays and data snatched at the airport in New York City,” says Dr. Lee, who is now in private practice and an adjunct associate clinical professor at UOP, as well as committee chair for the Orthodontic Chapter of the dental Alumni Association.
“So, he had to wait another year to take his Boards and present other cases.”
Dr. Alvi is described in the Economic Times as a close ally of the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, and as the son of Dr. Habib-ur-Rehman Elahi Alvi, the dentist of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
Wikipedia expands on Dr. Alvi’s political and dental careers, noting that he served in the National Assembly of Pakistan from 2013-18 and had previously been active in local politics and party leadership. He was an active leader in dentistry in his country, serving as president of the Pakistan Dental Association and of the Asia Pacific Dental Federation. He served as Dean of the orthodontic faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics.