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November 13, 2018

Ex-HEC ED says fake degree mafia behind his ‘forced’ resignation


November 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Former executive director of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Arshad Ali, who resigned last month, has claimed that he is a victim of fake degree mafia and his resignation was obtained under coercion. Dr Arshad Ali has also moved a petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) contending that his resignation was obtained under immense pressure so he wants to withdraw the same.

Dr Arshad Ali contended that he was the victim of fake degree mafia which was not happy with his action against fake diploma mills. The former ED of the HEC, who was accused of plagiarism in his research paper, claimed that allegations against him were untrue and his resignation has yet to be accepted so he should be allowed to withdraw his resignation.

The IHC Judge Justice Athar Minallah issued notice to the HEC last week and sought detailed response within a fortnight. In his application, Dr Arshad contended that he was fighting against corrupt mafia and took action against the HEC officials involved in attestation of fake degrees, which resulted in a campaign against him. He said the fake degree issue was a problem in the country.

“The extent and scope of such shady businesses can be imagined from the fact that there are 102 fake/illegal universities/institutes in Punjab, 36 in Sindh, 11 in KP, three in federal capital and three in AJK,” Ali, who remained the second most senior official of the regulatory body, said.

He said the campaign started against him when he took up the case of fake degrees, lack of quality education and organisational malpractices inside of HEC. He alleged that the nexus of commercialised education and media turned out to be a powerful force to stand up against. Dr Arshad said as the executive director of the HEC it was his ethical and moral responsibility to protect the good name of this prestigious institution and not let it be dragged into controversies. “Therefore, I did not respond through the media either directly by giving statements or by answering their queries,” he explained.

He said the media campaign led to internal investigations and charges of plagiarism against him within the HEC. “A number of committees were convened (interestingly without having members from computer sciences or relevant fields who could objectively judge the charges against me) but at every stage, I was neither provided copies of the detailed minutes regarding the deliberations and allegations nor an opportunity to present my defence,” he said. Dr Arshad said while these “biased hearings”were going on, as a responsible government officer, he refused to take this matter into the public domain. However, surprisingly, he said, mysterious sources regularly continued to leak distorted and biased and one-sided news of committee hearings and findings.

The former HEC top official said the charges of plagiarism against him have been politically motivated and out of professional jealousy. He clarified that after the media reports about allegations of plagiarism against him surfaced, he contacted his lead-author Professor McClatchey who informed him that the paper in question was withdrawn before it could be presented in the conference.

“The internet record from ARXIV shows that the paper was submitted by Prof Richard McClatchey on 5 July 2004 at 15:48:43 UTC. This paper did not go through a peer review process, and was produced by an undergraduate student (Atif Mehmood) as part of his project. This is also based on material put together for a project report, and the leading author Prof McClatchey has already confirmed this to be the case and the paper was withdrawn by the authors in 2004 before the conference.”

“I therefore confirm no deliberate plagiarism has taken place in my case, and the accusations being made are totally baseless and inaccurate. An independently constituted committee of leading computer science editors can confirm the above,” he said.

Dr Arshad said he spent 16 years with NUST, initiated research collaboration with Stanford University USA and Caltech University USA. “I also initiated research collaboration with Centre for European Nuclear Research CERN ( again the world’s most prestigious research facility in Europe,” he said.

He mentioned various awards he obtained in his career including Gold Medal for IT research from Pakistan Academy of Sciences/COMSTECH 2003, President’s gold medal recipient for NUST best researcher of the year award-2004, Distinguished Scientist of the Year 2006 from Pakistan Academy of Sciences and President’s Pride of Performance Award from Government of Pakistan-2006.

He further said that the resignation was offered by him on the condition that he will be given an exoneration certificate by the HEC, but the same was not awarded to him. However, the spokesperson for HEC Dr Ayesha Ikram contradicted the claim of the former ED. She said the executive director resigned with his free will. Dr Ayesha also shared an audio in support of her claim that the former ED resigned officially.

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