Tuesday, November 24, 2020 21:02

Media Being Kept at Bay on Fake Degree Progress

Posted by on Monday, April 18, 2011, 12:42
This news item was posted in Breaking News category and has 0 Comments so far .

The media is being kept in the dark over the progress being made by the Election Commission on the scrutiny of legislators’ educational credentials since the process was taken over by the chief election commissioner two month ago.

Fake Degree Progress
Fake Degree Progress

The ECP has stopped altogether issuing any press releases in this regard.

Previously, when the process was being handled by a senior official of the ECP, who was appointed as the focal person to examine the cases of fake degrees, press was regularly informed about the progress.

The process was later taken over by the Chief Election Commissioner, Justice (retd) Hamid Mirza, who avoids issuing press releases.

For instance, a case is pending against the federal minister for food and agriculture, Mir Israrullah Zehri, but he is not appearing before the authority despite being served several notices. The ECP, however, has not briefed the media about the minister’s disobedience.

There are several such cases which were referred to the ECP by the Higher Education Commission over the past year.

The Election Commission record showed that there were several federal and provincial legislators who had simply refused to appear before the commission to explain their position.

However, the ECP secretary, Ishtiaq Ahmed, told The Express Tribune that there were about a dozen such cases pending before the Chief Election Commission while a similar number of cases were pending in courts.

Interestingly, the media has learnt nothing about the progress in connection with these 12 cases.

Ahmed, however, admitted that the job of the focal person had been taken over by the Chief Election Commissioner himself.

When asked why the media was not being kept in the loop in this regard, he said: “This is not necessary…we cannot issue press releases every day,” adding that it would be difficult for the commission to perform its duties if all their energies were spent on writing press releases.

“Legislators involved in fake degree cases may resent if we issue a press release to the media about the progress of the scrutiny process,” said Ahmed According to the independent sources, ECP was investigating 62 cases till last year, of which 22 cases had been sent to police for registration of criminal cases.

The ECP secretary, however, said that there were only 59 such cases before the ECP, of which 20 cases have been referred to police.

“Twelve lawmakers were found not guilty of any wrongdoing,” he said.

In June last year, the Supreme Court and a parliamentary committee had asked the country’s 1,170 parliamentarians to prove the bona fides of their educational credentials.

The apex court had entrusted the task of verification of alleged fake degrees to the Election Commission and Higher Education Commission.

The media reports on the investigation of the fake degree cases by the EC and HEC was taken as humiliation by the parliamentarians.

The Supreme Court’s verdict had annoyed political parties who again issued tickets
to members who were disqualified because of fake degrees.

The HEC, which played more active role in unearthing frauds perpetrated by lawmakers, is now being devolved by the federal government to the provincial governments.

The commission had found over 100 such cases and referred to the Election Commission for their prosecution by the session judges.

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