Verification of academic credentials: Special committee to convey MPs’ concerns to CEC
ISLAMABAD: A special parliamentary committee headed by Parliamentary Affairs and Law Minister Farooq H. Naek will hold a meeting with Chief Election Commission Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on Thursday on the issue of verification of sitting lawmakers’ academic credentials.
This was decided during a meeting of the committee held here on Monday in the law minister’s chamber.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Naek said the committee had decided to have an audience with the CEC and convey him the concerns of parliamentarians on the issue.
Answering a question, the minister said: “We are not against the verification of degrees but the process has to be reasonable. Instead of setting a deadline, we will request the CEC to let lawmakers complete verification process of their academic certificates at their own.”
The meeting was attended by Syed Naveed Qamar of PPP, Bushra Gohar of ANP, Zafar Beg Bhittani and Zahid Hamid of PML-N.
Mr Naek said the committee constituted by the speaker of National Assembly on Friday had been given the mandate to convey concerns of lawmakers to the CEC.
Last month, the CEC sent letters to parliamentarians, asking them to get their academic certificates attested by the Higher Education Commission, otherwise criminal proceedings would be initiated against them.
The minister said there were many lawmakers who for whatever reasons had lost or misplaced their academic certificates and they needed time to get them reissued.
Talking to Dawn, a member of the committee, who did not want to come on record, said that instead of spending energies on “dead issues” the Election Commission should focus on the coming elections. The condition of graduation for contesting elections has been scrapped.
He said over 30 lawmakers had already been penalised for providing fake documents since the last general election. Instead of paying attention to parliamentarians whose terms were ending in a couple of weeks, the EC should focus on the scrutiny of candidates in the coming elections, he added.
The issue of fake degrees came to the fore in 2010 when the Supreme Court after sending some legislators home on the basis of their fake documents asked the HEC to verify academic credentials of all members of parliament and provincial assemblies.
The HEC carried out an exhaustive exercise and reported that out of 1,168 legislators, 249 had not provided their matriculation and intermediate certificates, a requirement necessary to validate graduation level education.
Later, the issue had died down.
However, the CEC last month sent letters to those 249 lawmakers out of the blue, asking them to provide certificates of their matriculation and intermediate level education for the verification of their graduation degrees.