As degree scandals go in Pakistan, this one made ripples when a British newspaper alleged that Reham Khan, a television presenter and wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supremo Imran Khan, has misrepresented her educational qualifications.
Reacting sharply to criticism, Reham on Wednesday emphatically denied the allegations by Daily Mail which reported that the former BBC broadcaster had not been ‘truthful’ about completing a postgraduate course in ‘Broadcast Journalism from North Lindsay College’ – a fact stated on her personal website.
Now a household name in Pakistan, Reham started her career in journalism as a reporter for the BBC show South Today upon completing her degree from North Lindsay according to her website.
However, according to officials at North Lindsey, it has never offered such a course. Indeed, it does not teach journalism at all. Furthermore, they can find no record of anyone bearing Reham’s name or age ever having enrolled.
‘We do not have anyone by those names or date of birth having attended this college,’ says a spokesman. ‘We have never done a degree in broadcast journalism.’
In response, Reham issued a statement released by the PTI, terming it a story not based on facts and lacking reporting legwork. The 42-year-old journalist stated that she was being pilloried to divert attention as UK authorities were busy in another high profile inquiry.
Without mentioning MQM chief Altaf Hussain, the statement said that the timing of the attack on Reham’s qualifications is highly suspicious as the country is currently looking towards UK authorities in another high profile case which is far more serious.
The former broadcaster also stated that the media should not be diverted by these ‘smoke screens’ and should focus on matters that can help move towards the goal of ‘Naya Pakistan’.
Censuring the national media debate on her educational background, she said that such attacks are only aimed at detracting the masses from the ‘real’ issues and that no such attacks can stop her from raising her voice on social issues.
“There should be no need to clarify. However, I need to put the issue at rest. I categorically state that after completing my undergraduate, I undertook a one year postgraduate course for a Diploma in Broadcast Media at Grimsby Institute Media Centre which ended on 23rd June 2006,” Reham said in stout defense of her educational qualifications.
In a bid to brush off allegation leveled against her by the UK-based paper, the former broadcaster claimed that she received the certification after acquiring a Bachelors Degree from the prestigious Jinnah College for Women, University of Peshawar.
Shortly after releasing the statement, the former BBC journalist took to social networking site, Twitter to heap scorn on the Daily Mail and Pakistani TV channels. “Just because it’s an English newspaper, doesn’t make it good,” she said in one of her posts laced with anger on the site.
She also changed the name of the university on her official website.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.
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