CIIT pro-rector sacked over plagiarism of PhD thesis

Published: June 17, 2016
Comsats Institute of Information Technology Pro-Rector Haroon Rashid PHOTO:

Comsats Institute of Information Technology Pro-Rector Haroon Rashid PHOTO:

ISLAMABAD: The Board of Governors of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) terminated on Friday its pro-rector Haroon Rashid who was proved to have plagiarised his PhD thesis.

The decision is second of its kind in the country in the last 15 years where one of the top figures of a university has been removed from service over plagiarism charges.

With this decision, Rashid is also likely to be removed from National Testing Service (NTS) which he was heading as Chief Executive Officer.

CIIT pro-rector’s degree void

The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) had removed Dr Azmat Hayat Khan as vice-chancellor of the University of Peshawar in 2011 when he was proved to have plagiarised his book.

According to sources privy to the development, the BoG took the unanimous decision in its meeting on one-point agenda in Islamabad that the pro-rector be removed from his post.

Rashid was given two chances to personally clarify his position. The BoG in its meeting on June 11 had suspended Rashid and also cancelled his three months leave.

The BoG gave him June 17 as the second chance to clear his position in personal hearing but he did not show up following which the members unanimously decided to terminate their pro-rector who has worked at CIIT for over two years. He was also ex-officio member of the BoG.

One of the sources in the meeting stated that a few members suggested his removal status be considered from 2006, the year the thesis was submitted with Preston University.

CIIT rector’s thesis deemed unworthy of PhD degree

Some members, however, opposed the idea and then decided to consider his removal from June 6 as removal from such back date might raise questions about decisions taken by him since then.

On June 6, the Preston University’s Academic Council cancelled PhD degree of Rashid. The HEC in September 2015 found 72% plagiarism in his thesis on request of a complainant forwarded to Quality Assurance Agency through an email.


Later, the university formed a four-member probe body to inquiry into the charges independently. In its final report, the body concluded that the “thesis does not justify the award of a PhD degree.”

The thesis was submitted in 2006. The report carried a chapter-by-chapter analysis which included comments such as “very highly plagiarised”, “highly plagiarised” and “extremely plagiarised”.

COMSAT pro-rector’s petition challenging probe dismissed

The report says that most of the content has been lifted from an original submitted by Rafiqul Zaman Khan to Hamdard University, New Delhi, India in the PhD programme in 2004.


According to sources, the BoG members, like previous meeting also discussed fate of Rashid as CEO of NTS. He is heading the testing service since the beginning. The service has been blamed for misappropriations and has been part of discussion in different standing committees as well. The service has also been under criticism as five of its board members are employees of CIIT which includes its rector Junaid Zaidi.

CIIT — the bigger stakeholder in NTS

Sources further said that the Board of Directors was also more likely to remove Rashid as CEO of NTS in coming weeks but interestingly it is registered with Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan with the name of Haroon Rashid while at CIIT he was known as Dr Muhammad Haroon Rashid.

Officials close to Rashid had been defended him stating that he had completed his degree in 2006 while the HEC’s plagiarism policy was implemented in 2007.

Preston’s fate

Preston University has also taken multiple hits to its reputation over the past few years. Recently, the HEC’s quality assurance team had directed the varsity to shut down their PhD and Mphil programmes, citing various lapses or glaring shortcomings, while warning that the degrees of students enrolled in or after 2014 would not be attested or verified.

Universities fail to take action against plagiarists

The university has Kohat as principal seat in its charter issued by the government of K-P but despite repeated notices and reminders from HEC, the varsity had not bothered to develop its main campus instead kept focusing on sub-campus in Islamabad.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • SYED
    Jun 17, 2016 - 7:16PM

    To all my young generation – Take a lesson from such humiliation and be assured to yourself, there is not short-cut to success. You’ve to learn every single step in order to become successful in your life and career. Thank you.Recommend

  • NDA
    Jun 17, 2016 - 8:11PM

    This hurts the students of CIIT for no fault of theirs. CIIT Management needs to be overhauled. Universities should be stopped from setting up sub-campuses . Most Universities are focussing on horizontal expansion while ignoring vertical developmnet -meaning qulaity and value addition by way of research and developmnet , industry linkages etc.

    Building more campuses is easy but adding value to education required hard work and commitmnet which are missing. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jun 17, 2016 - 8:27PM

    But he still gets to keep his government-issued bulletproof car, doesn’t he ?Recommend

  • Dr Muhammad Sajjad
    Jun 17, 2016 - 9:36PM

    This is karma finally catching up with this corrupt and obnoxious man who treated his employees with disdain and routinely insulted them publicly. His wife, chairperson of Maths department for last 13 years, was equally obnoxious with her colleagues and nobody dared confront her as Haroon was also heading HR and was known to be vicious and vindictive.

    As head of HR, Haroon promoted only his cronies and put hurdles in front of deserving and qualified academicians if they didn’t suck up to him. There is probably not a single rear shed on his disgraceful exit from CIIT. Everyone feels this is the karma everyone was waiting for.

    Now who is next? The list of undeserving cronies of Haroon and the Rector Junaid Zaidi is very long. Many plagiarists are also there. They need to be exposed and disgracefully sacked.Recommend

  • Shah
    Jun 17, 2016 - 11:33PM

    I didn’t understand one thing, if he did his PhD in 2006, how come he became Pro rector of CIIT in this short span of time?Recommend

  • NDA
    Jun 18, 2016 - 3:01AM

    @Dr Muhammad Sajjad: If this was happening in CIIT under the nose the Ministry concerned, the next one to go should be Rector Junaid Zaidi to start with. A Performance Audit must be undertaken and place cleansed of inferior quality staff. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jun 18, 2016 - 7:37AM

    Must be that he got it from Preston ! Kidding aside, the Board did the right thing in finally sacking him. But HEC must do the next right thing in not recognizing degrees from Preston as it is considered worldwide an unaccredited institution.Recommend

  • Riffat
    Jun 18, 2016 - 8:12AM

    Director P&D department (Tahir Naeem), and his cronies, and controller examination (Sohail Ghani, who used to be peon to Rector) and his cronies must all go off the CIIT; these illicitly-backed-by-Rector-Zaidi only know how to cheat, insult and harass faculty members, PhD scholars, and students.Recommend

  • Saleem Khalid
    Jun 18, 2016 - 10:39AM

    CIIT is doing at its best to take action against plagiarism, Well done CIIT. It is not correct that Ghani was only peon to Rector, he later served as personal secretary who was later elevated to the post of Controller Examination by the Rector from a staff grade to the highest rank in officer grade; Controller exam is an expert in bringing font-sizes to paper margins within limits. Rector is very proud of him, and always mentions his contribution in all convocations as if no other person can do better or even the same.Recommend

  • Murad Khan
    Jun 18, 2016 - 2:04PM

    It is so refreshing to see Haroon meet his Karma. He has been the leader of the corrupt regime at CIIT. Regime is still there, a lot of cleaning is required. I was appeared after him in a job interview, he saw my CV and said rudely: “During last five years, you only did a PhD, is that all you have to show? “. I found that very insulting. I am glad I decided to go to some better place, and refused to accept the CIIT contract I was offered.Recommend

  • Murad+Khan
    Jun 18, 2016 - 2:05PM

    It is so refreshing to see Haroon meet his Karma. He was the leader of the corrupt regime at CIIT. Regime is still there, a lot of cleaning is required. I was appeared after him in a job interview, he saw my CV and said rudely: “During last five years, you only did a PhD, is that all you have to show? “. I found that very insulting. I am glad I decided to go to some better place, and refused to accept the CIIT contract I was offered.Recommend

  • Itrat Rasool
    Jun 18, 2016 - 5:26PM

    Why has Rector been supporting and protecting him so long? doesn’t he know what how he did his PhD in less than a year period, or how he earned money at NTS by robbing poor jobless nation, why is there a separate test for every job or scholarship? why doesn’t this test work like IELTS or TOEFL which have two years expiry period, during which one can use the same test result? those who have been silent are all involved in robbing this poor nation. All of them must be sent to the jail.Recommend

  • Nighat
    Jun 18, 2016 - 5:35PM

    I am shocked to see that those who are supposed to set good examples are busy in setting worse examples. At least, they should respect their own old ages. It is too much.Recommend

  • Sabeel Ahmed
    Jun 18, 2016 - 11:08PM

    NTS must go through thorough audit, NTS has been robbing poor jobless people by asking for separate test for each scholarship and job vacancy, why they need separate test? why not organize a test similar to IELTS and TOEFL, results of which reman valid for upto two or three years? they have been advertising dummy vacancies just to execute tests and earn money, hundred of million rupees have been earned and gone into their pockets. From Haroon Rashid to Junaid Zaidi, every single high ranked person of NTS is involved in this disgusting business. Shame on them. Recommend

  • NDA
    Jun 19, 2016 - 3:53PM

    @Sabeel Ahmed: Oh my God. This is serious. I am associated with university education. I see how difficult it is for students to cope with financial constraints and here is a bunch of senior educators robing the helpless students.

    No wonder, radicalization and extremism is growing among the youth. The responsibility lies with these Rectors and Pro-Rectors and Professors. Federal Govt. must not let this whole issue be pushed under the carpet. Ministers should move and let some heads roll. Recommend

  • Dr. Shahbaz
    Jun 19, 2016 - 4:46PM

    @Murad Khan:
    You made a great decision of not joining CIIT. I wasted years of my life there and finally made a quit.Recommend

  • Jamrod Jan
    Jun 20, 2016 - 8:16AM

    It is still encouraging news for the crooks. I mean, you can make billions in 10+ years at the risk of being only fired from a position.

    I think a lot of people out there envy Haroon. you lucky son of a gun. Enjoy your post retirement vacation at USA. Recommend

  • Dr. Jamshed
    Jun 22, 2016 - 11:04PM

    Save exit for 2 no.people ?? This clearly proves that we are living in a country where personalities are far much stronger than the system! Fake degree holders get VIP protocol here while people with genuine degrees have to wait outside HEC from very early morning in queues. Bravo !!!Recommend

  • Dr Mumtaz Mustehsan
    Jul 5, 2016 - 12:50PM

    One Haroon is gone, ten can replace him, CIIT has no shortage of such people in its elite group or Rector’s friend circle.Recommend

  • NDA
    Jul 5, 2016 - 1:34PM

    @Dr. Jamshed:
    @Dr Mumtaz Mustehsan:

    The general view that uneducated people are source of trouble here . But CIIT case shows educated are source of bigger problems. It also shows how ineffective are the controlling ministries and their ministers. Has there been an inquiry yet or not.?/ Recommend

  • Dr Mumtaz Mustehsan
    Jul 7, 2016 - 3:01PM

    Educated or not, the problem is with corrupt regime. Dr Junaid Zaidi knew everything from day one in relation to Haroon’s degree, but he ignored and underestimated the gravity. So forget about any inquiry at CIIT, as whatever is going on at CIIT is the direct consequence of Rector’s vision and policies.Recommend

  • Dr. Shahzad
    Jul 9, 2016 - 7:53AM

    In my opinion, ANY organization where injustice, corruption and exploitation prevail results in chaos finally becoming part of the history. Possible past and current examples include: Petroman Training Institute, Govt. Transport Systems (GTS), PIA, KESC, Railway, …

    @ Junaid Zaidi: I highly appreciate and value your sincere efforts to be the founder of CIIT. If you want to make it like MIT, Stanford, Imperial ,…, you have to get rid of corrupt people and stop injustice and disrespect to sincere and hard-working faculty. If you want to make it like “Petroman Training Institute”, you are doing perfectly fine. Choice is yours !!!Recommend

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