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November 10, 2018

DG NAB’s degree: HEC changes stance thrice

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November 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission has changed its stance three times on the degree of Director General NAB Lahore Major (retd) Saleem Shahzad.

While on Friday HEC and NAB Lahore started circulating a letter dated June 19, 2018 among media persons about the attestation of DG’s degree, the Assistant Attorney General-Advocate Mansoor Tariq has exposed the reality of the degree.

Talking to The News on Friday, Advocate Masnoor said the degree of DG NAB has no legal value as it was obtained through an illegal campus of the Alkhair University. The assistant attorney general said the HEC’s response submitted in April 2018 before the Peshawar High Court (PHC) stands valid in which it was admitted that the degree was verified by the body inadvertently.

He said at the time of issuing degree in 2003, the Alkhair University was not competent to issue degree in any part of Pakistan apart from the Bhimber Campus. The dubious degree of the senior NAB official from un-recognized and illegal Islamabad campus of Al-Khair Alkhair University, Islamabad, was attested by the HEC on 20th October 2015.

However, in April 2018, the HEC changed its stance and said the degree from an illegal campus was attested inadvertently as the campus of university was not mentioned in degree and the HEC official considered it from a legal campus of the university, which is in the AJK.

“The degree of Mr Shahzad Saleem was verified by HEC Regional Centre, Peshawar, inadvertently and in disguise of the same as the university issued degree/transcript from its principal seat Viz Bhimber, which resulted in verification of the said degree,” says the response submitted by the HEC through the assistant attorney general.

The DG claimed he obtained the degree of Masters in Computer Sciences from Alkhair University of 2002. But the degree is awarded on the basis of two years physical attendance of school and credit hours for which the DG never took a leave from the office, rather he remained on duty on daily basis in that period.

However, when contacted by The News on Friday, HEC Spokesperson Ayesha Ikram said the commission had attested the degree of DG NAB Shahzad Saleem. She shared a response by the HEC dated June 19 2018 to one Engineer Ghani Mehmood, who was the original petitioner in the Saleem Shahzad case.

According to the response, MSC (Computer Science) degree issued by the Al-Khair University was attested by HEC Regional Centre, Peshawar, on the basis of verification letter issued by Deputy Controller of Examinations, Al-Khair University.

Ayesha said the HEC stands by its attestation. When asked why the HEC changed its stance thrice within months on the issue of the DG’s degree, Ayesha said the latest letter should be considered HEC’s stance on the issue.

However, Advocate Mansoor Tariq said the Peshawar High Court and Islamabad High Court in separate judgments have declared all the campuses of all Al-Khair University other than the main AJK campus as illegal, so the degrees issued by those campuses are just pieces of paper with no legal entity.

This is not the first time, the HEC has acted this way. In June 2017, the commission had granted degree equivalence to three NAB officers in gross irregularity and deviation from its own policy and standard operating procedure (SOP) despite the advice from the officers of the department concerned. Interestingly, according to documents available with The News, the HEC had initially declined to declare these officials eligible for the job telling them it was up to their employer to determine their eligibility as per the job requirement.

As per HEC Act’s clause 10 (o), the commission’s mandate is confined to merely equivalence and recognition of degrees, diplomas, certificates and not to determine suitability of the candidates’ eligibility for other organisations. It was a violation of even the HEC mandate and misuse of authority.

However, in this case all the three candidates were facilitated out of the way in violation of HEC’s own policy letter which categorically states that the commission has no role in determining eligibility against any post.

On June 8, 2017, in contradiction to earlier unanimous decision and in a big shift, a meeting was held at the HEC chairman’s office and it was decided that all three candidates could be considered eligible for advertised job. The next day through a letter No. (61)/A&A/2017/HEC/4744, the HEC communicated its decision to NAB that all three candidates may be considered eligible for the advertised post.

According to HEC documents, the decision was also even contrary to earlier communicated written decision through individual equivalence letters issued on April 3, 2017.

In his version, the then HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed had denied any wrongdoing and defended his decision as legal. The chairman said he did not take decisions under any pressure. In his version, the Director General NAB Saleem Shahzad has told The News that his degree is valid and duly attested by HEC. He maintained that he had been studying in the Islamabad campus of Al-Khair University taking evening classes during the course duration.

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