ISLAMABAD: A special team of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) paid a surprise visit to Sindh University on Monday in connection with the process of verifying legislators’ academic credentials and caught the university administration off guard.
Sindh University has been in the spotlight for reportedly delaying the verification process in an effort to protect big political names from public humiliation in the country-wide effort to weed out falsification of academic records.
According to officials who wish to remain unnamed, an HEC scrutiny committee, headed by Dr Syed Mehmood Raza, made an unannounced stop on the campus and sought a briefing from Sindh University’s vice-chancellor (VC).
The briefing focused on cases of legislators’ degrees that Sindh University had found genuine. However, the vice-chancellor was unable to provide the documentation to affirm the authenticity of the degrees that were cleared – dragging its already muddied feet through the quagmire of the degree verification process.
The HEC had already shown concerns regarding the degrees of Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of the Awami National Party (ANP) and federal lawmaker Faryal Talpur, who is President Asif Ali Zardari’s sister, among others. It may be noted Talpur is said to have graduated from Sindh University in 2003 and Bilour in 2006.
When contacted, the spokesperson for HEC confirmed that Dr Raza had paid a surprise visit to Sindh University.
Some 700 degrees of federal and provincial deputies - out of a total 936 degrees under scrutiny - have not yet been properly examined. The HEC had returned these degrees to the universities and extended the deadline for the process from July 27 to August 12.
On Monday, the head of the National Assembly’s standing committee on education, Abid Sher Ali, said that he had completed his duty in the effort to identify the fake degree holders. According to Ali, it is now the responsibility of the Election Commission and the judiciary to carry out legal proceedings.
Addressing an oath-taking ceremony of market administrators in Faisalabad, he said that the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) was not campaigning for mid-term polls. The main objective behind this effort, he said, is to strengthen constitutional powers and bring rule of law to the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2010.
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