ISLAMABAD: The degrees of a total of 26 MPs out of 249 have been verified and found genuine as the 15-day deadline set by the Election Commission of Pakistan ended on Friday.
The end of this deadline raises the question about the validity of degrees of the remaining 223 MPs, who have not responded positively to the direction of the ECP within the deadline. The ECP’s letter of Feb 7 had clearly stated that those who would fail to submit their degrees within the 15 days would be treated as fake degree holders and face criminal proceedings.
The ECP on Friday clarified that it has not withdrawn the fake degrees’ issue and resolved to implement the judgement of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit and the process of verification of degrees shall be completed so as to achieve the objective of articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The ECP clarification dismissed the impression given by media reports about the chief election commissioner’s telephonic talk in which he was reported to have said that the ECP letter was uncalled for and was issued without the consent of the commission.
The ECP’s clarification does not say anything about the cancellation of its Feb 7 letter which, if implemented in letter and spirit, would mean that the 223 MPs who did not submit their degrees during the set deadline are deemed to have fake degrees and are now bound to face criminal proceedings.
The relevant part of the Feb 7 letter of the ECP reads: “The Honorable Election Commission has taken a serious view for the delay in completion of verification process and has directed that it should be completed without further loss of time. It is, therefore, requested to produce original Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificates or copies thereof (duly verified by the Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education concerned) before the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, within 15 days of the issuance of this letter failing which your degree/Sanad will be treated as fake and criminal proceedings will be initiated against you.”
According to sources, within the set deadline the following 26 MPs had submitted their documents and were subsequently verified by the Higher Education Commission to have genuine degrees: Muhammad Tariq Khattak NA-5; Jamila Gilani NA-Reserved seat; Muzafer Ul Mulk NA-29; Shaukatullah Khan NA-43; Arbab Muhammad Zahir Khan NA-4; Usman Khan NA-12; Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain NA-104; Dr Haider Ali PF-86; Humayun Saifullah Khan NA-27; Farzana Mushtaq NA-Reserved seat; Malik Jehan Zeb PP-269; Parveen Masood Bhatti NA-Reserved; Bushra Rahman NA-Reserved; Mehreen Razzaque Bhutto NA-Reserved; Usman Ibrahim NA-95; Begum Naseem Akhtar Ch. NA-Reserved; Shakeel Bashir KPK-19; Arifa Khalid Pervaiz PP-Reserved; Malik Jalal-ud-Dhakku PP-222; Khalid Javed Asghar PP-108; Arshad Abdullah PF-18; Dr. Imtiaz Sultan Bukhari NA-Reserved; Malik Shakir Bashir Awan NA-70; Mrs. Sumaira Naz NA-115; Mir Qamber Ali Ghichki PB-41; and Ch. Abdullah Yousaf.
While the above 26 MPs responded positively, 223 did not bother to respond to the ECP’s deadline. The irony remains that the PML-N and its top leader in parliament Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who have been criticising the present regime for violating the Supreme Court orders, have publicly criticised and opposed the ECP’s move to get the degrees of 249 MPs verified despite the fact that the ECP and HEC are implementing the 2010 order of the Supreme Court.
It is interesting to see the PML-N is taking a stance on the issue that is contrary to the order of the SC and goes in favour of suspect degree holders hiding among this group of 223, whose degrees remain unverified.
Now that the ECP has stated that it has not surrendered on the issue of fake degree and has also resolved to implement the SC’s order in letter and spirit, all the eyes are set on the commission and its chairman Fakhru Bhai as to what action they would initiate against those who had not submitted to the ECP’s deadline.