Assistant Professor Abdul Rehman Shaheen has taught at Urdu university for 18 years and generally knows his Islamic History students by name, if not by face. But when The Express Tribune asked him about one student, Amir Liaquat Hussain, he stopped in his tracks.
“Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain who appears on TV?” exclaimed a baffled Shaheen. “Are you kidding me? I can say with complete surety that I have never seen him even once in class or during the exams.”
In fact, this department at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) has had the honour of hosting the former federal minister and popular television host who has been enrolled in its Masters programme as a regular candidate for about two years.
Dr Shaheen was not the only one who did not believe that Amir Liaquat was enrolled. Students at FUAAST have never seen Hussain on campus. “This institution isn’t that big that if Amir Liaquat Hussain came we wouldn’t know,” said Hasan Siddiqui, a student in the business administration programme. “Any of his appearances would have become big news [on campus].” Mysteriously enough, since 2010, Hussain has also reportedly cleared several semesters of his Masters degree.
According to Dr Shaheen, the department could ease up on some attendance requirements, but there was no way that a student could have reached a final semester of a programme without sitting any exams in the previous three.
Hussain, who identifies himself as a ‘doctor’ on his official website, graduated in 2008. He appeared as an external candidate for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Karachi and his seat number was 823342. Hussain then enrolled at FUUAST in 2010.
A senior FUUAST official confirmed that Hussain had completed the requirements for admission in a “very proper way”. “According to the academic record submitted at the time of admission, he had both the merit and eligibility for our programme,” said the official. “The main problem is that he never attended class or appeared in exams himself but had, however, reached the final semester.”
Another official has, however, denied that Hussain fulfilled the admission requirements. “In fact, the admission form was initially submitted with the photograph of another person to avoid the spotlight. Later, that photograph was replaced with the photograph of Amir Liaquat Hussain,” he alleged. The official said it was obvious that Hussain did not want to attract any attention, which is why he used the name ‘Amir Hussain’, according to his National Identification Card, instead of ‘Amir Liaquat Hussain’ which is the name on his previous academic records.
Solving the mystery
FUUAST Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Muhammad Qaiser told The Express Tribune that the institution had taken action. “An official letter has been sent to the chairman of the [then] department [assistant professor Muhammad Khalid] to give us an explanation within a three-day period,” he said. “It came to our knowledge that the person is not appearing in exams in this semester, but the last three semesters are definitely the matter of concern.”
On January 11, assistant professor Muhammad Khalid, the then chairman of the department, was asked to report on who sat the exams instead of the actual candidate – Amir Liaquat.
Professor Khalid replied to the registrar, Dr Qamarul Haq, that all of his students had sat the exams in person after completing their attendance requirements. “This definitely includes Amir Liaquat Hussain among them as we have a complete record of his admission in the department,” said Dr Haq. He explained that given what the chairman had stated there was no need (up until now) for any formal action to be taken against Hussain.
Professor Khalid told The Express Tribune that since he does not watch TV, he cannot identify Amir Liaquat Hussain.
When The Express Tribune contacted Amir Liaquat Hussain, he said that he had no information about any inquiry being conducted by the university administration to verify his credentials. Hussain denied that he was enrolled at FUUAST. “I am a famous man and anybody could get hold of my personal documents and misuse them,” he said. He confirmed that ‘Amir Hussain’ is the name that appears on his NIC. “I do not understand why anybody would do that with my name. I do not even need to do a Masters.”
But the controller of examinations, Muhammad Waqarul Haq, confirmed that Amir Liaquat Hussain has been enrolled. “I cannot say whether he himself appeared in the exams or not, the chairperson should be able to explain who appeared in the exams of the last three semesters if he did not,” he said.
The vice chancellor and registrar were told that Hussain had denied being enrolled.
“In this case, the university finds no reason to keep him enrolled on our record,” said Dr Haq, adding that then university would cancel the results of the past three semesters and expunge his name from the record.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2012.