Hafiz Muhammad Ajmal, the ‘brains’ behind a ‘unique’ multiple choice questions set for the Punjab Board’s ninth grade Urdu examination, was disqualified for life after an inquiry into the matter. Exam coordinator Ijaz Bukhari, meanwhile, was declared ineligible for five years, a slap on the wrist compared to the punishment meted out to the former.
The move, taken by the chairperson of the Punjab Board, came after the exam paper included two bizarre questions with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani as options to choose from.
One question asked: Who is responsible for Pakistan’s security?
Options were God, [President] Zardari, [Prime Minister] Gilani and the people.
Another trickier question asked what the system of life is based on.
Options included din (religion), dunya (the world), daulat (wealth) and [President] Zardari. Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Dera Ghazi Khan Chairperson Dr Zafar Aalam Zafri had constituted a committee under the supervision of Government College Layyah principle , Professor Maher Muhammad Akhtar to investigate and was given a 24-hour deadline to submit a report.
The report, which was submitted by the commission on Thursday, included Hafiz Muhammad Ajmal’s statement clarifying his formulation of the questions. Ajmal, a subject specialist in Urdu, maintained that the inclusion of Zardari and Gilani as answer options was not based on any ill will; rather they were intended to gauge the students’ knowledge of current affairs.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Ajmal echoed his official statement saying he had no political biases and merely failed to consider any repercussions to the questions.
Further recommendations were also forwarded by the commission to the Executive District Officer asking him to put the two officials on trial for “creating confusion” in the minds of the students and also for “insulting” the president and prime minister of the current government.
The paper was designed by officials from the education board in Dera Ghazi Khan. A total of eight boards make question papers for each subject. The papers are then shuffled in coordination with the secrecy department. The question paper from Dera Ghazi Khan therefore ended up in Lahore.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Zafar Aalam Zafri said the board will constitute new regulations to avoid any such mistakes in future.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.