Degrees and politics

Editorial July 14, 2010

On the surface it seems like a routine investigation of corruption charges by a bureaucrat. Yet ‘routine’ hardly does justice to the layers of complications that have emerged from the remand of Dr Farooq Leghari, a former DCO and brother of Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Javed Leghari. Ostensibly, the charges against Dr Leghari deserve to be investigated: allegations of misappropriation of state resources for personal financial gain. Yet the circumstances seem suspect. The government denies that there is any link between the fake degrees scandal and the investigation.

Dr Leghari’s sister claims that her brother was pressured by no less than the chief minister of Sindh and the home minister of the province. These are very serious charges of misuse of power. If the PPP-led administration in Sindh is to retain any modicum of legitimacy, then they should launch a transparent investigation of these charges to ensure that the government, particularly the office of the chief minister, retains its credibility. It should be noted that Dr Leghari was elected to the Senate on a PPP ticket and then made HEC chief.

If the allegations are indeed true, then they do not bode well for the government. Already embattled on account of the increasing number of fake degrees possessed by their legislators, any attempt at a cover-up would be embarrassing and quite unnecessary. The government should not make it an issue of parliament being persecuted by other institutions. The issue is quite simply of rule of law – would it allow those who obtain fake degrees to misrepresent their qualifications to employers and gain employment, taking the place of those who may actually possess such qualifications? Would universities and college admit students who get fake mark-sheets made or would they deny admission to such cheats?

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2010.


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