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January 2, 2019

HEC spills more beans on controversial degree of DG NAB in clarification


January 2, 2019

DG NAB Lahore Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to clarify its decision to attest 75,000 Al-Khair degrees including those from illegal campuses, the Higher Education Commission has spilled more beans about its controversial attestation of DG NAB Lahore Saleem Shahzad’s degree.

Interestingly, the HEC clarification exposes its blunder. In its clarification, the commission has admitted that the policy decision to attest degrees from illegal campuses of Al-Khair - obtained before 2009 - was taken on 31st August 2018. But in the same breath, the commission says the degree of NAB Director General Lahore Saleem Shahzad was attested at “HEC Regional Centre Peshawar in 2015”. So basically HEC clarification means its Peshawar official was so visionary that in 2015 he could see what HEC would decide in 2018 so he had decided to attest DG’s degree three years ahead of the policy decision.

Interestingly, in 2009 the HEC was not attesting any Al-Khair degrees from its illegal campuses like Islamabad but Saleem Shazad who was then DG NAB Peshawar was given special treatment by HEC Peshawar and his degree from illegal campus of Al-Khair in Islamabad was attested.

If dots are connected now the only explanation that comes in mind for the commission’s act could be that HEC Peshawar attested DG NAB’s degree in 2015 - apparently under pressure - in complete violation of the rules. Later, in early 2018 the commission was caught “red-handed” when a case was moved in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the illegal attestation.

When caught red-handed, HEC through its legal counsel and Assistant Attorney General Tariq Mansoor told the Peshawar High Court that the DG’s degree was attested inadvertently and the court was told that HEC does not recognise degrees from illegal campuses of Al-Khair. However again under pressure over the DG NaB’s degree issue, the HEC on August 31, 2018 decided to attest all 75,000 degrees from Al-Khair university regardless of the fact that they were obtained from illegal campuses.

Is this not a policy U-Turn which shows that HEC has no spine to stand up to powerful people and institutions so it changes its policy to accommodate them?

And this is not the first time HEC has obliged NAB officials out of the 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. But later the commission succumbed under pressure and favoured NAB officials beyond the mandate of the commission by declaring that all three candidates “may be considered eligible for the advertised post.”

Despite admitting all the facts presented in the News story of December 31st, the HEC has the audacity to call it “fake news”. The New story carried the exact web address of the HEC announcement and exact number of degrees that were to be verified. The commission failed to deny these facts in clarification.

The News stands by its story as it is based on facts and documents.

Here is the complete clarification issued by HEC.

“A fake news item entitled “HEC okays 75000 Al-Khair degrees in a policy U-turn” appeared in The News on December 31, 2018 claiming that HEC has taken a U-turn and verified 75000 degrees from Al-Khair University. Nothing could be further from the truth. The decision regarding the verification of degrees from Al-Khair University was taken over three months ago and formally notified on August 31, 2018. It was covered widely in the newspapers at that time. No subsequent decision has been taken.

The issue at stake was the status of degrees issued after April 30, 2009 when HEC formally banned Al-Khair University from enrolling students. Subsequently in 2011, the University was allowed to admit students only in its main campus at Bhimber AJK and prohibited from admitting students at other affiliated campuses and elsewhere.

The decision made on August 31, 2018 had four components.

a) No degree from the period 2009-11 would be recognised. b) For the period after 2011, only degrees issued to students enrolled at the Bhimber campus would be recognised.

b) In addition, students obtaining undergraduate degrees from other campuses in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences would be allowed to take a comprehensive exam to qualify for recognition of their degrees. No other degrees from the period would be recognised.

c) For the period before 2009 i-e before HEC had formally directed Al-Khair University to stop illegal educational activities, no adverse action will be taken.

d) In order to give relief to students whose degrees would not be recognized, HEC directed the University to provide them with compensation equivalent to three times their educational expenses. This is in line with the decision taken by the Peshawar High Court in a case filed by an aggrieved student.

e) In line with this decision, there is no adverse action regarding the degree obtained by Mr. Saleem Shahzad, who studied during 2000-2002, which was attested at HEC Regional Centre Peshawar in 2015.”