District courts and police across the country swung into action on Tuesday, awarding sentences and arresting former lawmakers and aspiring electoral candidates alike for submitting fake degrees and dual nationalities.
On Monday, the Supreme Court had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and courts across the country to ‘ruthlessly scrutinise’ all contestants and also take action against former lawmakers with fake degrees and dual nationalities by April 5.
Former federal minister and member of the National Assembly from Balochistan Mir Humayun Aziz Kurd became the first victim of this scrutiny when he was arrested on Tuesday for submitting a fake degree. He now faces a one-year sentence and a Rs5,000 fine.
The Sibi District and Sessions Court handed down the sentence to Kurd, who was arrested soon afterwards.
Addressing the media after his arrest, Kurd said that he would approach the high court to appeal the decision.
Kurd had won a seat in the National Assembly from NA 267 Kachhi-Jhal Magsi in 2008, and intended to run from the same constituency this time around as well.
According to the ECP, his BBA in Marketing from the Eire International University is invalid, since it is from a non-chartered university.
Another former Balochistan MNA, Syed Nasir Shah, was declared an absconder by the district and sessions court in Quetta, after he repeatedly failed to appear before it.
The court also issued an arrest warrant against Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam MNA Maulvi Rozuddin. The court was hearing fake degree cases against both former MNAs.
Meanwhile, Khalifa Abdul Qayyum, a former member of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined Rs5,000 for having a fake degree.
The sentence was awarded by Dera Ismail Khan additional district and sessions Judge Hayath Khan. Following the court’s order, police arrested Qayyum and sent him to the district central prison.
Qayyum was elected as an independent candidate from PK-64 DI Khan-1 in 2008, and had submitted his nomination for the upcoming polls as well. He was planning on running from NA-24 and PK-64 Dera Ismail khan on the ticket of the Muttahida Dini Mahaz.
Meanwhile, a District and Sessions Court is expected to announce its judgment in the case against former member of the National Assembly Jamshed Dasti, who has also been accused of possessing a fake degree. Tuesday’s hearing of the case was postponed till today (Wednesday) on the request of Dasti’s counsel.
The former MNA’s lawyer earlier submitted Dasti’s degree and a certificate issued by Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan.
Speaking to the media after the hearing, Dasti said that he was satisfied with the proceeding and was sure the court will acquit him.
The ECP’s counsel, Aurangzeb baloch, however, alleged that Dasti was misleading the court by presenting a certificate from Sardarul Madaris, which is not authorised to issue certificates in religious studies.
Dual nationality cases
Leader of the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) Javed Khan Tarakai, also a former MPA of the K-P Assembly, was sentenced to a year in prison for possessing dual nationality. Tarakai is also a Canadian national.
The District and Sessions Court in Swabi sentenced Tarakai to prison for one year and fined him Rs5,000.
Tarakai was elected as an MPA from PK-32 in the 2008 elections as an independent candidate. He did not submit his application for the 2013 elections because of the proceedings against him.
Meanwhile, a district and sessions court in Lahore summoned on Tuesday witnesses in dual nationality cases against former Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid MNA Begum Shahnaz Sheikh and former PML-Nawaz MPA Rana Asif Mehmood.
The court also summoned witnesses in another case against Shahnaz Sheikh in which she has been accused of tampering with official documents of the ECP and providing them to the court as evidence.
Meanwhile, the court also summoned another former lawmaker, Syeda Majid Zaidi, by April 4. She is has been accused of submitting a fake degree to the ECP.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2013.