Black sheeps in universities

HEC asked to identify black sheep in varsities
Islamabad, July 31: Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Education Abid Sher Ali has written to HEC chairman for details of those vice chancellors of universities who are creating impediments in the degrees verification process.

Taking strict notice of the situation arising after authentication of all the degrees sent to Sindh University, Abid Sher Ali has decided to take action against the universities. Sher Ali has received credible information that the present management of the Sindh University was under extreme pressure of the Presidency to declare the degrees as genuine.

Vice chancellor of the Sindh University who is considered very close to the Presidency when approached, denied any pressure with regard to verification of degrees but admitted that he was summoned to the Presidency during his last visit to Islamabad.

Dr Nazir Mughal said that political secretary to the President Dr Qayyum Somroo had called him in the Presidency for restoration of a sacked employee. "Nothing regarding verification of degrees came under discussion during my visit to the Presidency," Nazir Mughal insisted a few days back. Following is the text of the letter of the Abid Sher Ali written to HEC Chairman Dr Farooq Leghari.

"I would like to pay regards to your good self and appreciate the role of Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the verification of degrees of the Parliamentarians in a transparent manner without taking any pressure. However, through the electronic as well as print media, I have heard that vice chancellors of a few universities are creating impediments in the case of verification of degrees. "It will be appreciated if the names of those vice chancellors, if any, are provided to the undersigned to summon them, to reply to the Standing Committee, in its next meeting." The news

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Degree verification process lingers on
Islamabad: The ongoing saga of verification of lawmakers' degrees seems to be taking much longer time than expected because the universities concerned are finding it difficult to do the assignment as per advised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of the country.

Three deadlines - July 13, July 16 and July 27- have already passed and out of nearly one thousand documents, the universities have till now verified academic testimonials of 270 lawmakers and out of these 224 proved are found and 46 fake. HEC chairman Dr Javaid Leghari said: "I can't say with surety when the ongoing process will be completed as the commission will not accept verification of the documents that is not done as per its requirement."

Yes, it is true the HEC has sent back initial report of the Sindh University in which it had given a clean chit to all its 108 graduate lawmakers. It had asked the varsity to follow the HEC's criterion, the HEC chairperson said.

Dr Leghari contradicted the statement of Vice Chancellor of the Sindh University, Dr Mughal, who said on Wednesday that the university had completed degrees' verification. The Sindh University, in its first report, had only checked the BA degrees of the lawmakers.

Dr Leghari said that the HEC was facing the same problem about the academic documents of 600 to 700 members of parliament and provincial assemblies because relevant universities were not having required set of documents. In total, 36 degree-awarding universities are involved in the process of degrees' verification.

"We need verification of not only their (lawmakers') BA degrees, but also of matric and intermediate certificates besides checking of their computerised national identity cards," the HEC chairman said.

Dr Leghari said that the HEC had asked universities to use whatever means; direct correspondence with lawmakers, by writing to their respective speakers or employing their own resource, but the commission wanted verification as per its format.

About the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officials' contention that the HEC was not responding to their correspondence on the subject, Dr Leghari said that he was yet to receive any formal letter from the election commission. As soon as the ECP wrote something formally, the HEC would respond accordingly, Dr Leghari said. Dawn

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HEC appoints focal person to help ECP
Islamabad: While fulfilling one of the modalities of the Supreme Court (SC) judgment, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has finally appointed a focal person to provide all relevant information required by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action against the fake degree holders.

According to sources, the HEC has nominated one of its senior officers as the focal person. "A letter has been sent to the ECP in which the HEC has nominated Director General (accreditation and attestation) Rahim Bux Channa as the focal person," the source said.

The ECP has confirmed that the letter nominating RB Channa as the focal person had been received. However, HEC Adviser Quality Assurance Dr Mahmood Raza refused to mention the name of the focal person.

"It is true that we have sent a letter to the ECP in which we have mentioned the name of focal person but we could not disclose it right now," he said while talking to this scribe. RB Channa is one of the senior officials of the HEC and also a member of the committee constituted to review the process of verification of degrees.

It had become mandatory for the HEC to appoint a focal person as per the judgment of the Supreme Court in civil appeal number 409/2009 by the Election Commission of Pakistan in which the HEC chairman was directed to nominate one of HEC's senior officials as the focal person.

The function of the focal person, as per the SC judgment, would be to provide in writing along with documents, evidence and all relevant information about the educational qualifications of members of parliament and provincial assemblies.

The information that the HEC focal person must provide to the ECP includes the name of educational institutions which issued such document, the authority or official of such institution who signed such document and the grounds with regard to the degrees being fake or genuine. The news

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SC declares degrees of two PML-N legislators fake
Islamabad: Two PML-N lawmakers and one independent legislator lost their seats after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that their academic degrees were fake.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday issued the judgment after hearing separate appeals against Mir Zahoor Hussain Khan Khoso, a Balochistan assembly member elected from PB-26, Jaffarabad-II; and upholding earlier disqualification by the election tribunal of PML-N member of National Assembly from NA-100, Gujranwala, Haji Mudassar Qayyum Nehra, and Punjab Assembly member from PP-13, Rawalpindi, Malik Yasir Raza.

In reference to the Mir Khoso case, the apex court held that he was not a graduate and, therefore, not qualified to contest elections.

"Consequently, the notification of declaring him successful in the 2008 general elections is hereby set aside," the court said, adding that Mir Khoso used documents/Sanad (certificate) to present himself as a candidate holding a degree equivalent to graduation and was guilty of corrupt practices.

Earlier, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had informed the court that it did not recognise the institution from where Mir Khoso had secured his degree.

The court also ordered initiation of proceedings against Mir Khoso under the law laid down in the cases of Rizwan Gill and Mian Najeebuddin.

In both the cases, the Supreme Court had asked the ECP to deal with the matter under Section 78 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1976, which defines corrupt practices and includes false statements by a person in respect of his educational qualification.

The court had also held that it was the demanding duty of the ECP to not only ensure that elections were fair and honest and that there were no corrupt practices in the elections but also that individuals who have been declared disqualified to enter legislative institutions should not be allowed to break into the parliament.

"A person who offers himself to represent voters of the area has to fulfil criteria of Articles 62 (qualification), 63 (disqualification) of the Constitution," the law laid down in earlier judgment had said.

PML-Q member Haji Abdul Rehman Jamali (brother of former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Jamali) had challenged the nomination of Mir Khoso, an independent candidate, on the grounds that the member did not fulfil the requisite qualification to become a member of the provincial assembly since the Sanad-ul-Faragh issued by the Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, was not equivalent to bachelor's degree and contrary to requirements laid down under Section 8(a) of the Election Order 2007-08 as well as the provisions of Section 99 (cc) of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976.

The returning officer, however, accepted the degree while the ECP declared Mr Khoso as the successful candidate. Later the HEC notified that Sanad-ul-Faragh, issued by the Shah Abdul Latif Uuiversity was not an academic certificate equivalent to the Bachelor of Arts.

Haji Mudassar Qayyum Nahra, a PML-N MNA from NA-100, Gujranwala, was unseated by the election tribunal of Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh of the Lahore High Court in June last for obtaining bachelor's degree by concealing facts. Mr Nahra was declared successful in the 2008 general election as an independent candidate, but later joined the PML-N. Chaudhry Bilal Ijaz, a candidate of the PML-Q, had challenged his election.

Malik Yasir Raza had filed appeal against a decision of the LHC Rawalpindi Bench over the issue of possession of fake degree. Yasir Raza was declared successful from PP-13, Rawalpindi, but was unseated by Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed of the Rawalpindi bench of the LHC on June 30 on a petition filed by his opponent, PPP candidate Ishtiaq Mirza.

Ishtiaq Mirza had challenged the validity of Mr Raza's Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) obtained from the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education in 1995 as well as his matriculation certificate and graduation degree.

At the last hearing the apex court had forwarded his degree to the HEC to ascertain whether it recognised the Al-Khair University from where the member had obtained his degree.

Meanwhile, the HEC has been asked by the court to verify the educational qualification and authenticity of the Sanad of Moulvi Mohammad Sarwar of JUI-F, Balochistan, who is minister for labour and manpower. The HEC will submit its report by August 13.

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QAU's new project raises eyebrows
Islamabad: Taking lead in generating its own resources, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has taken a novel initiative to set up a school of management sciences on the basis of design, build, finance, operate and transfer.

According to an advertisement placed in the national media, the university has sought expressions of interest from interested parties to set up the Quaid-i-Azam University School of Management Sciences (QASMS) on public-private partnership basis.

However, majority of the varsity's faculty has disliked the idea, terming it an ill-founded move which would bring a bad name to the university. With the involvement of the private sector, there will definitely be a high fee structure at the proposed school, they said. The very concept means business and profit making that would affect the QAU in a long way, they added.

However, the university spokesperson said as per directives of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and federal government, public sector universities had been asked to take such initiatives to "stand on their own feet".

Mr Nadeem who deals with QAU public relations said that last year the university had received only Rs525 million whereas it needed over Rs600 million to pay salaries of its employees alone.

"Even on Friday, we had a protest demonstration on the campus for not implementing the government decision of 50 per cent increase in the salaries," aid Mr Nadeem, adding QAU had no money to implement the decision.

Though Mr Nadeem claimed the varsity was still brainstorming the idea, a deadline of August 12 has been set for interested parties to submit their proposals. The QAU syndicate is also taking up the subject in its meeting on Saturday. A professor of the QAU requesting anonymity said there was nothing wrong with the idea to have public-private partnership but there were reasonable ways and means to do that. "How come a university can go ahead with such a major initiative without seeking prior approval of its syndicate," he said.

The hotchpotch manner that is being followed to move ahead for setting up of the management sciences school does not go well with the campus community. Already people have started raising their voices against the project, he added. An assistant professor said some powerful elements from the ruling PPP government were eyeing varsity's prized land under the garb of private-public partnership. There is nothing wrong to start new courses to generate resources but why the involvement of private sector, the assistant professor questioned.

Despite severe criticism, the QAU management got the idea passed through the Academic Council recently and would try to bulldoze it through the syndicate on Saturday. In the presence of politicians like Sherry Rehman and Aftab Shaban Mirani of the PPP who have been nominated as members of the syndicate, the QAU management wants to get approval of the project, said the assistant professor. Fearing reprisals from the university management, nobody is publicly criticising the initiative though it is the hot issue on the campus, he added.

When contacted, Secretary General QAU Academic Staff Association Dr Gulraiz Akhtar accepted that everybody was talking about the issue but the elected body was yet to take it up at the level of executive body meeting. Association president Dr Aitzaz Ahmad could not be contacted for comments. Dawn

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