Pakistan courts cracks down on lawmakers for fake degrees
At least 3 Pakistan lawmakers were on Tuesday jailed while arrest warrants were issued against many others for possessing fake educational degrees.
Islamabad: At least three lawmakers were on Tuesday jailed while arrest warrants were issued against many others as Pakistani courts today cracked down on former members of national and provincial assemblies for possessing fake educational degrees and holding dual nationality.
In a majority of the cases, action was taken against the lawmakers for submitting fake educational degrees with their nomination papers during the 2008 polls.
Former federal minister Humayun Aziz Kurd, elected to the National Assembly from Balochistan province, was given a one-year prison sentence and fined Rs 5,000 by a court in Sibbi for possessing a fake degree.
Kurd was arrested in the courtroom after the sentencing and sent to a district jail.
Khalifa Abdul Qayyum, a former legislator from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, was given a three-year prison term and fined Rs 5,000 case by an additional district and sessions judge in Dera Ismail Khan for having a fake degree. He too was arrested and sent to a central jail.
Javed Tarkai, a former legislator from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was given a one-year prison term and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 for holding dual nationality.
Tarkai held Canadian citizenship which he had not declared or relinquished when he was elected as an independent candidate in the 2008 polls.
Mir Badshah Qaisrani, a former legislator from Punjab province, was indicted by a court in Dera Ghazi Khan for having a fake degree.
In Balochistan, a court issued an arrest warrant for
legislator Syed Nasir Shah for having a fake degree.
An arrest warrant was also issued for Maulvi Rozuddin, a former parliamentarian from Balochistan, for having a fake degree.
Earlier, a court at Swabi in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had given a three-year prison term to former legislator Sardar Ali Khan on Saturday for possessing a fake degree. Khan was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 5,000.
In a related development, former parliamentarians Jamshed Dasti and Amir Yar Waran of the Pakistan Peoples Party were indicted by two different courts in Punjab province yesterday for using fake degrees to contest the 2008 polls.
In Islamabad, the Election Commission today declared as fake the educational degree of Maulvi Agha Mohammad, a former parliamentarian of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam from Balochistan, and asked a sessions judge to take action against him.
Last month, the Higher Education Commission had declared that the degrees of 54 politicians were fake while those of 189 former lawmakers were yet to be verified.
Scores of lawmakers had not submitted their Matric and FA degrees to HEC for verification, officials said.
Yesterday, a Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry gave 189 former lawmakers time till April 5 to get their degrees verified by HEC.
Chaudhry said the lawmakers had failed to get their degrees verified despite repeated notices issued to them.
He called for "ruthless scrutiny" of all persons contesting the May 11 polls.
Several top politicians are among the 189 former lawmakers who are yet to get their degrees verified, including former Leader of Opposition and senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Awami National Party leader Bushra Gohar, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Javed Hashmi and former federal minister Mian Manzoor Wattoo.
Being a graduate is no longer a requirement to contest elections in Pakistan but the Supreme Court has led a crackdown on fake degrees as part of efforts to clean up politics.
Anyone possessing a forged degree becomes ineligible to participate in polls.