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Degree verification process | Peshawar Medical College

Degree verification process almost halted
Islamabad, Dec 28: In clear contempt of the Supreme Court's order, the MPs' degree verification issue has almost been halted by some leading universities following covert and overt pressures, including from the federal education minister who too sees the process as a violation of the Constitution, writes Ansar Abbasi.

Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, the Federal Education Minister, in a letter to the Punjab University weeks back took the position that he was not answerable to the Higher Education Commission and warned the University not to undertake this action, which he said was "without lawful authority and based on a violation of the Constitution".

Some leading universities like the Punjab University, Peshawar University and Sindh University are said to be the three leading institutions that are not cooperating in the verification process despite unambiguous orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and a reminder of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Degrees of almost 350 MPs are yet to be verified though the process of verification had started several months back. Initially, the process started on the initiative of the Chairman National Assembly's Standing Committee on Education Abid Sher Ali but later the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to complete the process at the earliest.

A senior spokesman of the HEC said here on Monday that from the very beginning, the commission had started receiving MPs' degrees from the ECP for verification. The spokesman said that after the SC's order, the ECP again expected the HEC to complete the process of degree verification but for the last few months the concerned universities were not responding.

The ECP, besides approaching the chairman Senate and speakers of the national and provincial assemblies, also wrote to the universities for submission of MPs' degrees for verification by the HEC. However, things have almost come to a complete halt as almost 350 cases of verification are still pending. The pending cases include the doubtful BA degree of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's son, Abdul Qadir Gilani, an MPA of the Punjab Assembly.

There are reports of political pressure being exerted on the universities not to cooperate with the HEC, whose Chairman Dr Farooq Leghari too was victimised for aggressively pursuing the matter.

What however is intriguing is the letter of the Federal Education Minister Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, who when approached by the Punjab University for the same verification process, warned the Punjab University not to undertake the process.

While the HEC spokesman confirmed that the universities were clearly told that the verification process was the consequence of the ECP's initiative, the education minister questioned as to how the HEC could seek the verification of MPs' degrees.

In his letter addressed to Dr Zahid Karim Khan, Controller of Examinations, University of Punjab, on September 23, the education minister claimed that though he was a strong supporter of due process and did not consider himself above public accountability, yet he said: "I am not answerable to the HEC in this or any other regard. I, therefore, ask you not to undertake this action as it is without lawful authority and based on a violation of the Constitution."

Without giving any reference to the Supreme Court's order or the role of the ECP in the process, he said, "I wish to query whether the HEC, while intimating the desire that the process of verification be undertaken, has done as much as to inform the University of the authority under which they have required the University to undertake the process of verification."

He added, "Please stand informed that the only body vested with the authority to scrutinise the eligibility of an electoral candidate is the Election Commission of Pakistan (Commission) established under Article 218 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and in this regard under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1976, the rules thereunder. Further, judicial enquiry can also be made into individual cases on the basis of election petitions, etc. No other executive authority may exercise these powers and probe into matters pertaining to the honourable members of the National Assembly of Pakistan, the Senate of Pakistan or the provincial assemblies."

Assef added: "The HEC most certainly cannot make any elected member answerable to it or start an exercise with a view to make any honourable member to submit to their scrutiny. This would be prejudicial to the doctrine of separation of powers, which is at the very root of our Constitution. Furthermore, I find it offensive to the dignity of an elected member that an executive authority undertakes an action which it is not competent to take and through that action questions the eligibility of an elected member ex post facto." Interestingly, in his letter the minister conveniently overlooked the fact that the whole process of MPs' verification not only involves the ECP but also the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

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Classes at Peshawar College of Dentistry to start from Jan 3
Peshawar: The Peshawar Medical College has inaugurated its state-of-the-art college for dentistry where 50 students have been admitted and the classes would commence from January 3.

Having two separate units pre-clinical and clinical, the Peshawar College of Dentistry (PCD) is equipped with all modern facilities for students and patients.

The college administration on Monday hosted lunch to formally inaugurate the facility. Hosted by Prof Dr Najeebul Haq, head of the PMC and the group of hospitals attached with it, PCD Principal Dr Farooq and its dean Prof Dr Talat Firdaus, the lunch was attended by senior professors of the medical profession and notables of the city.

Prominent among them were Prof Dr Sultan Mahmood, Khyber Medical College Principal Prof Dr Arshad Javed, former dean of Postgraduate Medical Institute Peshawar Dr Mohammad Iqbal Khalil, the former city district naib nazim of Peshawar and others.

Dr Najeeb said the college had tried its best to arrange the most modern facilities for dental education before opening the college. "We have already started clinical practice in the facility by providing dental treatment to patients," he added.

In the pre-clinical unit of the college, modern laboratories and equipment have been provided to the dental students. Phantom Head Lab, the laboratory equipped with artificial tools to train the students before providing treatment to patients, has also been established. This facility is not available in the public sector colleges of dentistry, said a doctor who would be teaching at the Peshawar College of Dentistry.

Dr Talat Firdaus said that a 22-member faculty including professors, associate professors, assistant professors and senior registrars along with 20 lecturers and 20 technicians and scores of supporting staff has been appointed in the dentistry college. Another laboratory for the dental education beginners has been set up in the college to educate and train them about the instruments and materials used in dental sciences.

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Student's killing 'by police' sparks protest
Bara: The death of a tribal student at the hands of Peshawar Police Friday sparked anger in his native Jamrud area in Khyber Agency and provoked private schools' students and local residents to stage a protest and block the Pak-Afghan Highway.

The enraged protesters took the coffin of the deceased Niaz Ali, a class IX student, from his house in Shakas area and marched towards Takhta Baig where they put the body on the road for around one hour. The traffic on the busy road including the Nato supply convoys was halted and a large number of vehicles were stranded.

The protesting students of private schools were carrying placards inscribed with demands such as seeking judicial inquiry into the killing. The protesters were chanting slogans against the police officials and security forces for killing the innocent student.

Talking to reporters on the occasion, the deceased's cousin Haya Khan said that a heavy contingent of security forces and police laid siege to their house in Shakas area of Jamrud at around 4am and arrested three brothers Niaz Ali, Sahir Ali and Khan Mir. He said Sahir Ali and Khan Mir were released after they were investigated in the vehicles of security forces parked outside their house.

However, he alleged that Niaz Ali, who was a class IX student in the Bagram Model School, was shot dead by the police after a preliminary probe outside his house.

Condemning the killing of Niaz Ali, he said the deceased was innocent and was not involved in any criminal activity. He criticised the police for extra-judicial killing of his cousin and suggested if Niaz Ali was wanted to the government the family should have been given prior notice through political administration.

Principal of the school Muhammad Hussain said that Niaz Ali was a brilliant student and he had no links with the militants or criminal groups. He lamented the way police killed him, saying that if he was wanted to the security forces the police had no right to kill him without investigating the case.

The protesters asked the governor, corps commander Peshawar and chief justice of the Peshawar High Court to probe the matter and bring to book those who gave wrong information to the authorities.

They peacefully dispersed and opened the road after political administration officials assured them of full cooperation. According to official sources, Niaz Ali was wanted to Peshawar Police in connection with the murder of two policemen who had been killed by unknown armed men in Phase VII of Hayatabad, Peshawar, a few days back. The news

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