PM&DC scam: FIA arrests accountant to save top guns
Islamabad, June 21: The fake medical registration scam at the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PM&DC) took a new turn on Sunday when the FIA, in a bid to find an escape goat, arrested an accountant Mohammad Ismail who had unearthed the scam by providing documentary evidence to the FIA inquiry team.
The family sources of the arrested accountant, the father of four small children, have accused vice president PM&DC Dr Asim Hussain (a personal friend of President Asif Zardari) of using his political clout to get him arrested because Ismail had provided all the details of this scam during the initial inquiry conducted by FIA Inspector Zafar Mahmood Sheikh.
Ismail earned the wrath of the top guns after he pointed out that the real sister of Dr Asim Hussain, in her capacity as member of PM&DC inspection committee, had been approving certain private medical colleges for affiliation with the PM&DC.
Dr Asim owns a private medical college in Karachi and, because of his friendship with President Asif Zardari, has managed to capture the top slot of PM&DC and is now calling the shots despite having clear conflict of interest with the PM&DC.
The FIA came into action after the top guns of the PM&DC were informed that Mohammad Ismail would appear before Justice Ejaz Ahmed of Lahore High Court (Rawalpindi court) on Monday (today) where he had filed a case against his dismissal from the service on charges of involvement in the scam.
He had challenged these allegations, as the FIA inquiry report had not found evidence of his involvement in the scam. He was picked up from his home by Iqbal Qasmi on the orders of Director FIA Hanif Joya.
The interesting part of this scam is that Mohammad Ismail was an accountant in the PM&DC but was given the charge of registration branch by the Registrar. After Pakistan ambassador to one of the Central Asian States wrote a letter to the Foreign Office about the fake degrees of some students who were given registration certificates, Ismail identified about two-dozen cases of bogus registration. In his absence, the official files from his office were taken away after breaking the locks and to date those files remain missing.
Ismail was cleared by the inquiry report compiled by FIA inspector Zafar Sheikh. The inspector had instead recommended action against Registrar PM&DC Dr Major Ahmed Nadeem Akbar and also asked for putting his name on the ECL.
Zafar Sehikh had accused the registrar of not providing official record of the files containing the names of those who were issued fake degrees. But instead of taking action on his report, Zafar Sheikh was asked to stop work on the scam and report at the FIA headquarters. Sheikh is now posted at the FIA headquarters and is paying the price for making recommendation, which were not appreciated by his superiors in the FIA.
This correspondent tried to contact Zafar Sheikh but he refused to take the telephone call, perhaps under instructions from his bosses to keep quiet.
Meanwhile, talking from Larkana Dr Asim Hussain said he did not have anything to do with all this. "I am fed up with all this and don't want to get involved in this mess", he said, adding: "I have already told the president PM&DC to take control of the affairs. I am only its vice president", he said.
When told that he was being accused of playing a major role in getting Ismail arrested, he said the concerned person was already dismissed from service and was in appeal against the PM&DC.
When he was told that FIA inquiry report had recommended action against Registrar PM&DC, he did not know about it. Dr Asim said he did not get the copy of the report. He said he had tried to get the copy but could not get it. Upon this, this correspondent offered him to provide the official inquiry report of FIA to help him understand the nature of whole scam, if he thought he did not know about it.
Dr Asim first denied that his sister was working in the PM&DC. But when told that Dr Rubina was part of the PM&DC inspection team, which gave clearance to private medical colleges for affiliation with the PM&DC, he admitted that she was his sister. Dr Asim said he had several doctors in the family and this did not mean that they could not do jobs anywhere. Dr Asim said he did not have anything to do with these things that were being reported in the media. The newsYour Comments
Old bookstalls continue to attract people
Rawalpindi: The stalls of old books, set up on weekends on footpaths of the Saddar area, continue to attract book readers despite the skyrocketing prices of daily use items. The book reading habit in Pakistan did not develop mainly due to high illiteracy rate and high cost of books, but Rawalpindi has a unique and years old book market that is held on every Sunday. This market provides books to people in excellent condition at much cheaper rates. The main customers not only include the students, but also people belonging to different fields of life.
People from the twin cities can buy, sell or even exchange books at much affordable prices in this market. Hundreds of bookstalls are set up for last many years on the footpaths of Kashmir Road, Bank Road and Haider Road on every Sunday. These stalls offer thousands of secondhand books in English and Urdu languages on each and every subject including literature, fiction, biographies, criminology, encyclopedias, medical, engineering, accounting, law, healthcare, science and technology, history, religion, philosophy, interior decoration, cooking, curriculum books, dictionaries, digests, magazines and even periodicals. These books are available at much cheaper price as compared to new ones. During a visit to the market, it was found that the prices of the books ranged between Rs 20 to Rs 1,000. Many students and people form different walks of life were visiting different stalls to find books of their interest.
Talking to this scribe, the customers, particularly students said the market was not less than a paradise for them as they could get cheap and good books from this place at affordable prices. However, some people complained that the stallholders were demanding high prices than they expected. Mudassar, a stallholder, said they were paying Rs 200 weekly to the officials of cantonment board for setting up their stalls on the footpaths. Tariq, another stallholder said they usually bought books at 25 percent of the total price of the book and sell at half price. Daily times
A night with Comsats astronomical society
Islamabad: The invitation by the Asian Study Group (ASG) to 'Come star hopping on a clear night with astronomers from Comsats Astronomical Society and peep into the history of time!' was too irresistible to miss out on and it turned out to be well worth the effort of finding the venue and waiting for the multi-media system to be fixed for sound.
The fascinating documentary about the origins of the moon and a look through state of the art Meade and Televue telescopes at the night sky, helped those who attended the function - men, women and children - have an interesting evening of discovery.
The event was held at the Comsats Institute of Information Technology, which is still working on expanding its campus. It was a little surprising to see the arrangement had been made outdoors - somehow most members thought it would be in an auditorium with the telescopes placed on a terrace or some such structure! But as Nasreen Sultana, the lady who organised the programme and is a member of the society (Not yet registered) explained, the full facilities are not yet in place and since she had wanted to have the programme since many months, they planned to go ahead. There are many aspects involved in arranging such a programme she told - a moon; a clear sky; no sudden change in weather and so on and after many attempts at last the time seemed opportune - which it was!
Light coming from the star-studded night sky has fascinated and captivated mankind since it originated billions of light years ago, while the moon has been a symbol of love and romance in the eyes of poets and romantics. It was a bit disappointing to learn that despite its glamorous image, the moon is a very dangerous place - the NASA documentary gave a clear and very fascinating account of how the moon came into being and how it affects our world. But it has to be said, it was wonderful to sit under the clear sky, with a gentle breeze blowing and the half moon shining in all its glory - it made the evening special. After a late start the member briefly explained what the programme was about, the documentary was screened and then members were invited to look through the telescopes - it was exciting to see the moon as it is shown in the documentary, full of craters and very desolate.
Such programmes are not only informative they also open our eyes to the wonders of the world and though we can watch documentaries while sitting in the comfort of our homes, there is something about watching them with friends and acquaintances that adds a certain something to make it an out of the ordinary occasion. And the discussions that follow later give different perspectives and ideas, which are helpful in understanding the topic, especially if you are totally clueless about it!
Education should be accessible to all: CIIT registrar
Islamabad: Extremism is on the rise in the country as there are fewer opportunities for young people in the education sector. Militants provide youth money, weapons and power for their nefarious designs, which are not available to them otherwise, said Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) Registrar Dr. Arshad S. Malik during an interview.
He lamented the inaccessibility to education in general and higher education in particular and said that the access to higher education is even less than two per cent contradictory to government statistics, which says it is five per cent. "One need not to be a rocket scientist in order to understand the devastating impact of budget cut in education sector, especially public sector universities, which do not have any other way of funding except for government funds," he said.
Malik said that the double digit inflation was currently prevailing in the country, which is likely to be increased in the coming years so how would it be possible to run higher education institutions with a massive budget cut every year. "We cannot increase fee structures, as it would be unfair to those who are already finding it hard to pay, but what we are thinking right now is to request those who could afford to pay more," he said.
He also mentioned various scholarships from their endowment fund through, which they were providing free education to the needy people. "No one would be denied admission in our institution merely on the basis of inability to pay. Once a student is on merit, we will try to find financial assistance for them," he said.
Terming it important to introduce new subjects, which are according to the international trends and improve the quality of education, he said that their university has recently introduced 'dual degree programme' in collaboration with the Lancaster University, UK. "Initially we have introduced Computer Science (CS), Management Science (MS) and Electrical Engineering (EE) where the monitoring and assessment would be done by the Lancaster University while the student would receive two degrees i.e. Comsats and Lancaster University," he added.
Malik also highlighted the importance of spreading the reach of higher education to the rural areas and mentioned their university as the pioneer in doing so. "We have opened our campuses at Sahiwal, Vehari, Attock, Wah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Abbottabad in order to provide higher education facilities to the youth of these areas as well," he said.
He also mentioned their plan to open campuses at Balochistan and Sindh where they are still seeking land. "Opening campus in small cities requires more land as it should have residency for faculty and students," he said.
Terming girls' education inevitable for country growth he said that it was an unfortunate fact that number of girls in higher education was still very low as compared to boys. "In our university we used to have 12 per cent female and rest male when we started in 2000, but now we are having 20 per cent female, which is also not satisfactory percentage," he said.
Malik said that HEC was having a misleading figure regarding the female percentage in higher education sector, as according to HEC there were 46 per cent of female and 54 per cent male in higher education. According to him the female percentage in higher education would be no more than 15 percent. "The number of female students is far greater than male in medical and nursing where females are more than 80 percent while in rest of the fields the situation is not very encouraging," he said.
He said that they were planning to open their campus in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa while keeping in mind the cultural sensitivity. "We have developed a concept "all women campus" during day time which would be turned into 'all male campus' in evening so that women from these areas would be having no problem in acquiring higher education," he said.
He further mentioned the importance of technical education and said that now the trend has changed from resource based economy to knowledge-based economy so concrete measures should be taken to promote technical education in the country. "We intend to introduce V tech degree but since we are higher education institution we are not ought to do this however there is always room for debate and legislation through which we could utilise our facility for technical education as well," he said.
He said that there university started operating in 2,000 and in ten years of their journey, more than 17,000 students have passed out, they are having 1,700 faculty members and 48 different degree programs which include bachelors, Masters, MS and PhD programmes.
Highlighting the benefits of education expos for students and for institutions, Malik said that such expos are useful where several institutions gather under one roof and students with open mind visit and make an informed choice. "The situation has changed as compared to past as ten years ago there were only 24 universities in the country. Currently there are 132 institutes and in order to sell our product we have to advertise where expo is one of the best ways to market our various programmes," he said. The news