Fake degrees

Published: June 28, 2010
The writer is professor of political science at LUMS (rasul.rais@tribune.com.pk)

The writer is professor of political science at LUMS (rasul.rais@tribune.com.pk)

It is a question of both ethics and law when hundreds of legislators of national and provincial assemblies produce fake certificates to establish their eligibility for electoral offices. When such a large number of cheaters (what else is one to call those who wilfully violated an election law) occupy seats in our  federal and provincial assemblies, people within the country and outside may rightly question the standard of our society and the quality of our ‘democratic’ leadership.

There cannot be any excuse for lying, deceiving the public or the state or violating a law, no matter how bad that law may be. Civility of a person and society is judged by respect for law and rule of law. Unfortunately, the rule of law situation in Pakistan has continuously deteriorated. So have norms of integrity and honesty on individual and collective levels. The root cause of our constitutional and moral decline is the infamous ‘law of necessity’ that our superior court under the thumb of military rulers established.

The legislators with fake degrees have offered the same excuse; political necessity forced them to violate the law because they would not leave the political arena uncontested to the rivals. In democratic societies, when law and political ambition clash, the ambition is easily defeated because no one can claim or even attempt to be above the law. This is when you have strong institutions and equally strong tradition of rule of law.

Our case is different. We are still struggling to establish rule of law. It is in this spirit that the Supreme Court has ordered the Election Commission to take action against all MPs with fake degrees. If the EC was autonomous and independent of ruling groups in the executive, action would have been taken without the intervention of the courts. And in the first place they should have been checked properly before the election.

Those who have ruled in violation of the law and the constitution or would do it now or in the future would have a fundamental interest in crippling the judiciary or any other institution that would check them or hold them accountable. It is therefore understandable why the fake degree holders and their political backers in high positions may not feel good about the decision of the Supreme Court.

However, I am in agreement with the fake degree holders that requiring a specific level of education for being in the contest for political offices is undemocratic. It is equally true that Pervez Musharraf enacted this law with a political motive to keep certain known politicians out of the assemblies.

The case in point is not as much about a bad law written under bad motives, but of personal integrity of holders of public office, i.e. our elected leaders. We would like to hold our legislators in high esteem for earning the public’s trust and confidence. But they themselves must stand taller on issues of honesty and law than rest of the crowd. Members of parliament are supposed to have a higher ethical and moral bar than ordinary mortals, and in progressive societies they set standards of integrity and lead society not by empty rhetoric but their personal example and values of achievement, integrity and commitment to public service. I don’t think all is bad in the legislatures. Not all the legislators can be placed in the same category as the ‘cheaters’. It
would be insane and immoral to judge every member of the legislatures through the conduct of those who have acted unethically and without sufficient care for the reputation of the legislative assemblies.

This furore serves to highlight the wrong of fake degree holding MPs, but should not overshadow the presence of other members who have remained truthful and upheld their honour and positions, or parliament itself. Nor should we start condemning democracy or electoral behaviour of ordinary folks on this count.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th,

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Reader Comments (13)

  • asad
    Jun 28, 2010 - 1:31AM

    lots of them refused to participate in the absence of a degree. Gauhar Ayub, Gen Majeed etc. BTW they were from Q league.Recommend

  • Patriot
    Jun 28, 2010 - 11:28AM

    relax asad…Professor sb belong to the breed of teachers/journalists who lay down every blame on Pervez Musharraf (as if we were brunei darresalam till 11th October 1999), though they have toned down a bit these days due to obvious reasons, but old habits die hard! Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Jun 28, 2010 - 1:45PM

    Should we trust legislators who lie to become law makers?Recommend

  • Bilal
    Jun 28, 2010 - 3:39PM

    Any person who cannot even pass the very docile BA (which, for all intent and purposes is a joke that hardly teaches you anything) that our country offers is not fit to decide the future of anything other than himself, be it democratic or not.

    In fact many of the degrees offered by Pakistan are easily gotten and hardly teach anything. If anything, the criteria of being allowed to make decisions for the people should be set higher than it is right now. Recommend

  • Jun 28, 2010 - 6:00PM

    I am wrting a book which contain the facts, how few leaders accepted in-complete territories, while most of muslim leaders were against partition or partition according to Pakistan Resolution 1940. The result was that just after 23 years, East Pakistan parted its connection with Pakistan.
    As regards leader pro-Quaid-e Azam or pro-Pakistan, some of them parted from Muslim League before partition i.e M.A. Suharwardy, Maulana Bhashani, G.M. Syed,Hasrat Mhani etc. some of them parted after creation of Pakistan i.e. Raja Saheb of Mahmoddabad etc. The rest Khawaja Nazimuddin, M.A.Khuro, Sardar Abdur Rab Nashtar, Khan Abdul Quyum Khan etc. were kicked from politics by Ghulam Muhammad Civil Bureacrate and Ayub Khan.
    The position has so much detariated that in 1947 most of the leaders were Bar-at-Law or highly qualified. There are 168 Legislarures who have produced dake degrees. (that is why the amendment that legislatures should be Graduate to even an illitrate person can become Prime Minister of Pakistan). These facts and many more will appear in my book which will be ready for publication after around three months.


  • Omar Farooq
    Jun 28, 2010 - 9:22PM

    @ Sharjeel …. Great Question… Anybody can answer??Recommend

  • Asad Baig
    Jun 28, 2010 - 9:42PM

    Pervez Mushraff had done the right thing by implementing the requirement of degree for the assembly.We are living in the 21st century and those who are given the authority for making laws should know what kind of law(s) are they making.Those who are uneducated can not do justice to any one,Justifying a Wrong Step by our Politicians for Their Own Benefit by the Writer is Very Sad.Pervez Musharraf is a honest person and sincere towards Pakistan. He Has Done More Good for the Country First as a Soldier and Later as the President than all our politicians combined. Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Jun 28, 2010 - 10:15PM

    I had the opportunity to live in West Germany when Helmut Kohl was the Federal Chancellor.

    One member of his cabinet used to be the subject of public ridicule, becuase he was the only federal minister who was a graduate. The rest held PhD level University excellence.

    Does this example tickle our imagination to where are we heading when we defend illiterates to qualify as our law makers?Recommend

  • Bangash
    Jun 28, 2010 - 10:57PM

    A graduate assembly is still full of Pakistanis of every religion, ethnicity and class. It will also be an example and inspiration to other Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Asif Khan
    Jun 29, 2010 - 4:01PM

    I think now we as a country / nation reached to the point where only paradigm shift required. This event is sham on us with in the country and internationally. All these politian further more lose cridibility.

    All solutions are rubbish and have proven track record that there is no success. We should look and think for out of the box model to change our country and people.Recommend

  • Abrar Ahmad
    Jun 29, 2010 - 10:50PM

    I agree with Asif that beating about the same bush would not take us anywhere. A paradigm shift is required. A writer in in some post earlier had suggested the replacement of this sham democracy with a system he called ‘Meritocracy’ is worth consideration. No fake degree holders, no nincumpoots will be then be able to hold the reigns of our destiny.Recommend

  • H Saqib
    Jun 30, 2010 - 10:49AM

    I agree with Patriot. Musharraf had a better team of managers. They were all professionals of repute and not fake degree-holder fraudsters. Look at what economy was in the 90s, now and under Musharraf. Capital flew away along with Musharraf because investors have no confidence in the acumen of fraudsters. Please also read: link textRecommend

  • Laiba Jehangiri
    Jun 30, 2010 - 6:49PM

    Agree with Sharjeel completely.Recommend

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