Fake degrees' debacle
Degrees verification process may take longer
July 21: The saga of lawmakers' fake degrees has taken yet another twist. It emerged on
Monday that the verification process of the legislators' educational
qualifications may take longer than expected. The Election Commission of
Pakistan has expressed a lack of confidence in the way the Higher Education
Commission is conducting the process of scrutiny. It will now re-verify the
HEC's findings. According to the ECP secretary, every lawmaker whose degree has
been declared fake would be given the chance of a personal hearing "to prove
their claim". The secretary was also quoted as saying that "we don't need
anybody's direction on how to do our job". If this were true the fake degrees'
issue would not have emerged in the first place. What can also prolong matters
is that the HEC will now have to submit its findings to the education ministry,
instead of directly to a parliamentary committee on education.
appears to be doing an impartial job. Without naming names, it declared the
degrees of 37 lawmakers to be bogus. Resultantly, the government was seen to
apply pressure tactics to HEC chairman Javaid Laghari when his brother Farooq
Laghari was picked up by security men on July 12 in Hyderabad. Farooq Laghari
was charged with corruption during his tenure as DCO of Tando Mohammad Khan.
Regardless of the veracity of the claims against him, the timing of Mr Laghari's
arrest casts a dubious shadow on the government's intentions. It strengthens the
belief that his arrest was a pressure tactic aimed at harassing the HEC head.
Prime Minister Gilani's intervention - in the aftermath of which Farooq Laghari
was released on bail - indicates the government's involvement in the harassment
of Javaid Laghari in order to influence the verification process. Mr Gilani also
asked the Sindh chief minister to "avoid any victimisation" of the Laghari
family after the HEC head met the premier on Monday. The fact that a democratic
government can apply pressure tactics more suited to totalitarian regimes is
The issue has dragged on long enough. The government must not
interfere in the verification process and refrain from harassing those tasked
with scrutinising the degrees. The issue needs closure so that the country can
move on. The lack of a clear direction is fuelling speculations about mid-term
elections, which is not what the country needs at this point. The government
cannot delay the issue indefinitely hoping that it will go away. The matter
needs to be resolved - and the best way forward is for the task to be
accomplished honestly and speedily. Dawn
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HEC in yet another spiral
Islamabad: A meeting between Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the Higher Education
Commission (HEC) chairman has sent the commission into another spiral, making
the outcome of the issue of fake degrees more confusing.
On one hand, a
number of universities has sought more time from the HEC after the expiry of the
deadline for completing the verification process, and the prime minister's new
directive for submitting the verification reports to the education minister
rather than the National Assembly Standing Committee on Education that is headed
by an opposition lawmaker, has added to the mess.
In the meeting with HEC
Chairman Javed Leghari, Gilani had directed him to submit verification reports
of degrees to Education Minister Assef Ahmed, instead of submitting them to the
National Assembly Standing Committee for Education, headed by PML-N's Abid Sher
The Election Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court, which had
directly sent some degrees for verification, are also waiting for HEC's report.
Following Gilani's directive, the HEC on Tuesday sent its report to the
education minister, declaring 183 degrees valid, while reporting 37 to be fake.
However, the names of the degree holders have not been made public so far.
The HEC has allowed additional time to some universities and asked them
to complete the verification process by July 27.
Sources said there were
some universities that were delaying the progress, while Khairpur University,
situated in the Sindh chief minister's hometown had not sent a single degree
back. Daily times
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HEC refuses to accept clean chit for all lawmakers
Islamabad: During the ongoing scrutiny supervised by Higher Education
Commission (HEC), University of Sindh and University of Balochistan have given
clean chits to all their graduate lawmakers, an outcome which the HEC has
refused to accept.
According to the HEC, 105 members of the
parliament and provincial assemblies claimed to obtain their BA degrees from
Sindh University, whereas 56 lawmakers said they had had their education at
University of Balochistan.
"Both these universities have sent us their
one-line response that each degree sent to them is genuine, which the HEC has
refused to accept. The commission has asked them to repeat the entire
verification exercise," said an HEC official close to the development.
The HEC formulated a special form for scrutiny of lawmakers' educational
backgrounds, whereby all universities were supposed to check not only their BA
degrees but also matriculation and intermediate certificates along with their
computerised national identity cards. The criterion was the same for every
university, and the HEC would not compromise on that, said the official.
Though the exercise was taking considerable time, the universities were
largely following HEC instructions in running checks on the claims made by the
lawmakers, he added.
According to the HEC, the University of Punjab tops
the list as 313 legislators have claimed to have completed their graduation from
that university. Next comes the University of Peshawar which is scrutinising the
degrees of 110 members of parliament and provincial assemblies.
University of Karachi has 100 of its former students in national and provincial
legislatures followed by the Bahauddin Zakariya University with 50 graduates.
The Pakistan Military Academy, which also has the status of a
degree-awarding institution, is verifying degrees of eight graduates. The Gomal
University and Allama Iqbal Open University are investigating educational
qualifications of 10 legislators each. Ten members of parliament and provincial
assemblies have done their graduation from the now-defunct Al-Khair University.
The HEC is also investigating degrees of 36 legislators who have claimed
to have graduated from foreign universities. Twenty-one lawmakers had contested
elections on the basis of certificates issued by 10 madressah boards of the
country. The HEC has already written to the boards, seeking their confirmation.
The Election Commission is yet to provide degrees of 161 legislators to
the HEC for verification.
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HEC chief 'unwilling' to continue in office
Islamabad: Higher Education Commission chairman
Javed Leghari on Tuesday met President Asif Ali Zardari and updated him on the
fake degree issue, sources in the Presidency said.
official press release was issued because it was said to be a one-on-one meeting
for which media coverage was not allowed.
Like other events from which
the Presidency tried to keep media away, the meeting between the president and
the HEC chief took place inside the president's residence.
Mr Leghari presented a report on fake degrees and the names of politicians whose
cases might be sent to the Election Commission for further action.
HEC chairman had called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at Prime Minister's
House on Monday and presented him the report.
It has been learnt that the HEC chief has expressed his
inability to work for the commission because of reported pressures and threats
he had been receiving since he had started scrutiny of education degrees of
lawmakers on a Supreme Court order.
However, President Zardari asked him
to continue for some time because his resignation would generate a new
controversy and ultimately the government would be blamed for it.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said he could not comment
because it was a one-to-one meeting.
Meanwhile, a leader of Pakistan
Muslim League-N, Abid Sher Ali, told a private TV channel that the HEC chairman
was being harassed by Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza to keep the issue under
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KU verifies degrees of 14 more legislators
Karachi: The educational degrees of 14 out of 16 lawmakers that were
recently sent to Karachi University by the Higher Education Commission for
verification have been declared genuine.
The legislators whose
degrees have been declared genuine are: MPA Zareen Majeed, MPA Ameer Nawab, MPA
Muqeem Alam, MPA Mohammad Abdur Rauf Siddiqui, Sindh Local Government Minister
Agha Siraj Durrani, MPA Waseem Ahmed, MNA Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani, MNA Dr Azra
Fazal, MNA S.A. Iqbal Qadri, MNA Khush Bakht Shujaat, MNA Haider Abbas Rizvi,
MNA Sher Mohammad Baloch, MNA Husna Aftab and Senator Safdar Ali Abbasi.
Prof Nasiruddin Khan, KU Pro Vice Chancellor, said
that two cases pertaining to Mohammad Khan Toor, a provincial minister from
Balochistan, and Shama Arif Mithani, an MPA from Sindh, were being processed.
However, sources said Mr Toor's educational record was not available
with the KU. Dawn
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