Pak PM, 400 lawmakers have fake degrees?

Analysts say that many leaders apparently submitted fake degree papers to qualify for posts.

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi are among over 400 lawmakers whose graduation degrees are yet to be verified by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

According to the Dawn, the verification is yet to be done, as the copies of the ministers’ matriculation and intermediate certificates are not submitted.

A list sent by the HEC to the Election Commission has the names of 23 senators, 138 members of the National Assembly, 153 provincial legislators of Punjab, 21 of Sindh, 83 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 11 of Balochistan.

Important people on the list include Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Environment Minister Hameedullah Jan Afridi, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Communications Minister Arbab Alamgir Khan, Population Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Youth Affairs Minister Shahid Hasan Bhutto.

It is believed that scores of Pakistani lawmakers may lose their seats for lying about their academic credentials.

The Supreme Court has ordered the Elections Commission to vet the credentials of nearly all of the some 1,100 federal and provincial lawmakers.

If enough lawmakers are found ineligible, there are rumblings that a midterm election may be needed.

It is worth mentioning here that former President Pervez Musharraf had imposed a law in 2002 which required candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent for a post.

The Supreme Court struck down the requirement in April 2008, but not before Musharraf allowed elections in February of that year.

Analysts say that many candidates apparently submitted fake degree papers to qualify for posts.