by: Waseem Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Despite claims of strict scrutiny by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), at least 14 legislators with either fake or unverified degrees have made it to the new national and provincial assemblies as a result of the May 11 elections.
At least six fake degree holders whose names are mentioned in a list available on the official website of the ECP have managed to become parliamentarians again while eight legislators who did not get their degrees verified by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) despite repeated orders of the Supreme Court have also been elected to the new parliament.
In its judgment on 1st April, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had clearly directed the ECP to send the list of candidates with unverified degrees to concerned returning officers so that they could be barred from contesting the elections.
However, surprisingly 35 such candidates contested the elections from various constituencies and eight even made it to the new parliament.The names of legislators with fake degrees include Samina Khawar Hayat, Sardar Meer Badshah Khan Qaisrani, Shokat Aziz Bhatti, Dewan Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, Nawabzada Mir Nadir Magsi and Molvi Agha Muhammad. According to the ECP website, the degree of Samina Khawar Hayat, who got elected to the Punjab Assembly’s reserve seat on PML-Q ticket, has been declared fake by the issuing university.
Sardar Meer Badshah Khan Qaisrani’s degree has also been declared fake by the University of Sindh. He is elected to the Punjab Assembly on Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam-F ticket.Raja Shaukat Aziz Bhatti, who got elected from PP-4 constituency of the Punjab Assembly on Pakistan Muslim League-N ticket has fake degree as his purported degree belongs to another person named Shaukat Aziz Sheikh.
Newly elected MNA Dewan Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari’s degree is invalid according to ECP website as he passed part one and two of BA examination in the same year which is against the university examination rules 1987. Bukhari has won from NA 153 on PML-N ticket.
Maulvi Agha Muhammad of who won from NA-261 on JUI’s ticket got his degree from an HEC non-recognized Madrasah named Al Jamia Al Dania Darul huda, Thari Habibabad Khairpur Mir’s Sindh.
Nawabzada Mir Nadir Magsi, who got elected for Sindh Assembly on PPPP ticket got his BSc Agriculture degree from a non-Chartered University.
According to HEC’s official list of unverified degree holders, there are eight legislators who got elected to National and provincial assemblies during the recent elections without having their degrees verified by HEC. Majority of these MPs belong to the PML-N.
These include new Punjab Assembly members Khawaja Mohammad Islam of PML-N, who won from PP-72; Karam Dad Wahla of PML-N from PP-219, Makhdoom Syed Ali Raza Shah of PML-N from PP-89, Malik Muhammad Nawaz of PML-N from PP-71, and Iftikhar Hussain Gilani of Bahawalpur National Awami Party from PP-267. Two women MPs on reserve seats Zaib Jafar and Maiza Hameed both from PML-N could also not get their degrees verified. Member of the new National Assembly Bilal Rehman, who got elected as Independent candidate from NA-36 is also the holder of an unverified degree.
In its historic order on 1st April, the apex court had urged 189 ex-parliamentarians to get their degrees verified or face disqualification. In response around a 100 ex-MPs got their degrees verified, but the remaining 89 refrained from doing so. The Supreme Court had also directed the ECP to send the names of parliamentarians who fail to verify their degrees to Returning Officers so that their papers are not approved until the verification of their degrees by HEC.
“The ECP, in the meanwhile, shall inform the respective Returning Officers, before whom they (parliamentarians with unverified degrees) may have filed the nomination papers, if they are again contesting for the General Elections to give their decision in respect of their educational qualification after receipt of the decision by the HEC,” said the order of the apex court.
However, apparently ECP failed to obey the apex court order and the said candidate managed to get their papers approved by the returning officers.