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Fake degrees

A register of reports and views from the Pakistan press

Written by Ruchika Talwar |
April 6, 2013 3:43:11 am


About a month from today,Pakistan will vote in a new government. Candidates for the federal and provincial legislatures are being chosen based on their university degrees and nationality,although the fake-degree scandal among Pakistan’s then legislators surfaced almost two years ago. This week,some candidates all set to try their luck on May 11 were sent to jail for holding fake degrees. The higher education commission verifies candidates’ degrees at the nomination stage.

Nearly 10 candidates from various political parties have been disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding fake degrees this week. As president,Pervez Musharraf had introduced a rule requiring all candidates,contesting for any legislature,to hold a graduation degree. This was done away with by the civilian government. However,this meant that those who had filed their nomination papers on the basis of fake degrees and won in 2008 retained their seats. Now,when the Supreme Court has cracked down,they have become defaulters/ criminals with retrospective effect. A former member of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly was also disqualified for holding dual (Canadian and Pakistani) citizenship.


THE needle of suspicion hasn’t spared even Nawaz Sharif. Dawn reported on April 5: “The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has sent a list of alleged bank loan defaulters to the ECP and the list includes PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif… According to the sources,the Sharif brothers have not returned Rs 4.9 billion they borrowed from nine banks in 1994-95 on the plea that NAB had confiscated their properties which,according to them,was worth more than the amount of the loans…” Shahbaz squarely challenged the accusation and Nawaz’s name was cleared by the ECP for one electoral seat among the several applied for. The Express Tribune quoted Shahbaz on April 5: “Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shahbaz Sharif said he will quit politics if graft references against him are proven… Shahbaz requested the caretaker government to take notice of the accusations levelled against his ‘popular party’. He further said that if action against such unwarranted claims is not taken,the people might assume that the accusers are supported by the interim set-up.”


Musharraf’s candidature in one seat,among four,was rejected by the ECP. Dawn’s online edition reported on April 5: “A local lawyer,Javed Kasuri Advocate,had raised objections over the candidacy of Musharraf,saying that he does not qualify to contest elections under Article 62,63 of the constitution… Musharraf had filed papers to contest the general elections from four seats,including Karachi,Islamabad,Chitral and Kasur. Meanwhile,a Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Zafarullah,on behalf of the PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal,has filed an application before the ECP seeking disqualification of Musharraf alleging that he can not contest polls due to his involvement in four cases,the Akbar Bugti killing case,the

Lal Masjid case,the Benazir Bhutto killing case,and the missing

persons case.”


THIS close examination of candidates is being hailed as a “ruthless scrutiny” by the Pakistani press. Renowned columnist and PML-N MNA Ayaz Amir’s candidacy was also rejected. The Express Tribune reported on April 5: “ ‘Ruthless scrutiny’ claimed an unexpected victim… Ayaz Amir saw his nomination papers rejected. Amir… fell foul of articles 62 and 63 as the Returning Officer decided that some of Amir’s own newspaper articles were ‘against the ideology of Pakistan’… A visibly shocked Amir said: ‘What can I do? This seems to be sheer illiteracy. The RO does not seem to understand the articles in question,which were written in English. What will be the fate of the nation if you give such authority to people like this?’ Amir also vowed to file an appeal against the RO’s decision,but said he was unsure whether he would get justice: ‘I don’t know what the ideology of Pakistan is,as everyone has his own interpretation…’ “ Prominent politician Faisal Saleh Hayat of the PPP also faced the axe because of “water theft”. Hayat has an unbeaten record of winning every election he contested. If this wasn’t “ruthless” enough,two men have objected to the candidature of the Sharif brothers for not being “good Muslims” since they didn’t sport beards.

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