The Highe Education Commission has to verify the degrees of 249 members of national and provincial assemblies, while 19 cases are under litigation which includes seven MNAs and 12 MPs.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a letter on February 7 to the 249 legislators to have their degrees verified, lest “criminal proceedings be initiated against them”.
The HEC has recalled former Degree Attestation Director General Rahim Bux Channa and former deputy director Qazi Abid to look into the cases. Channa had retired in November 2011, while Abid is at the HEC’s Learning Innovation Department. They began their work on Tuesday.
Sources said the two officials had resisted pressure from legislators — some of whom were later disgraced — and have been recalled because of their good reputations.
The ECP letter seems to be part of a move to bar fake degree holders from contesting the general elections.
Sources confirmed that legislators have started visiting HEC in person for degree verification and the number is expected to increase as February 22 is the last date for verification.
In its judgment on June 14, 2010, the Supreme Court of the ECP to investigate and initiate action against those found to have used forged education documents. While a number of legislators filed their documents, the HEC could not complete the process, even after the passage of almost three years.
The verification of degrees started in 2010 after reports about several fake degree holders in the national and provincial assemblies surfaced and became a source of national and international embarrassment.
According to document available with The Express Tribune, of the legislators whose degrees have been challenged in courts, nine are from the Punjab Assembly; three from the Sindh Assembly; one from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and seven members of the National Assembly.
The ECP has also ordered the legislators to produce original secondary and higher secondary school certificates or certified copies to be verified by the relevant board of intermediate and secondary education.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.