A (fake) revolution

Published: August 2, 2010
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We have already destroyed our education system, why ruin it further?

For the sake of the upcoming generations of Pakistan, this is a plea to rulers to look ahead and use this opportunity to do their best to wash away some of their nasty political past.

The saddest chapter of this shameful crisis was the discrimination towards the Higher Education Commission’s chairman and his brother.

The names of elected MNA’s, MPA’s and Senators of Pakistan continue to be added to the list of fake degree holders being discovered daily by educational institutes.

HEC has the opportunity to make a difference in Pakistan and bring us the much awaited ‘educational revolution’ at least, if not a political one.

The government, first arrested HEC Chairman Javaid Leghari’s brother as soon as degree verification was ordered by the Supreme Court, and later raided the chairman’s house, arrested his domestic staff and threatened to confiscate his land and properties. The raid was in reaction to the HEC’s earlier statement that President’s sister’s degree may be ‘doubtful’ because there were no attendance records. The Chairman of HEC is close to the ruling party, but because of his family name and relatives, it was politically correct for the ‘Jiyalas’ to have pressured him, because the President’s sister was defamed.

It was a relief to note the Prime Minister had immediately consented to meet with the Chairman of HEC upon his request, and had accepted the procedure the HEC would adopt for verification, and had announced that the HEC must not be pressurised and must complete its work as fairly as possible. This was a very responsible action promptly taken by the PM. The PM had also ordered the release of Leghari’s brother from custody during the meeting.

However, such tactics highlight the ‘political will and sincerity’ our leaders have.

The crises of fake degrees is of a great magnitude. We have legislators completing bachelors after masters, possessing degrees from colleges that do not exist; people with zero credentials. It is also not limited to fake degrees, as many institutions these people claim to have attended either do not exist or were not recognised by the HEC. Some institutes claim that they need more time to verify degrees stretching the process to around two months.

The next fake degree is actually very original and can be verified too, but the person holding the degree had hardly attended the institution and got someone else to sit his place during finals. There is no way to have this verified and these are the lucky ones which will remain respected in society.

A punishment for the deceivers must be announced with disqualification — possibly for life — for cheating the system. Along with them, all the applied contenders of the 2008 elections, should be treated the same way and their degrees too must be verified, to understand their intentions for coming to power, and their misuse of the electoral process.

This a chance for the nation to bring ordinary tax payers to the parliament, and do away with people who thrive on the feudal culture for remaining in power and are truly very less in number. I am sure every Pakistani will be ready to support this move by the government. We must understand that the degree requirement was abolished in the year 2008 to accommodate the president to hold office.

The ECP or parliament while giving the verdict on the fate of the fake degree holder must also legislate to amend the rule book and include a mandatory “qualification exam” for anyone interested in serving the country with honesty and dedication. It may be undemocratic but our requirements are a bit different from the rest of the world who have seen these days and have overcome them.

I fail to understand how one can defend a person with a fake educational declaration.

Being uneducated or less educated compared to degree holders is a completely different domain. At present we have people who had desired to be lawmakers but had cheated the system, the law, the constitution and their people by submitting fake credentials.

Initially, there was a mixed reaction, some said the politicians are being targeted for character assassination, most blamed it as the fruit of a dictator and a some wanted the judiciary and the people to focus on more important issues. However, the media and civil society started to express the feelings of the masses and talk shows picked up pace.

Almost all political parties have started aligning with public opinion and this is the only way to move forward to save ourselves and the future of the Pakistani child who will be entering the market in a few years.

But since the Wikileaks incident, and the tragic Airblue crash along with HEC submitting to the Education ministry for reporting (although this should be in direct violation of the Supreme Court orders) the media has fallen quiet and the fake degrees issue is dying down.

Let us hope and request that the political parties will not come out with a new NRO and try to have these unethical lawmakers avoid punishment.

The Ministry of Education has demanded that all records present with the HEC must be transferred to the education ministry immediately, and that the HEC is to report to the Education Ministry.

The excuse: HEC it is a product of a dictator and an incompetent unit.

I seriously doubt the intentions of the Education Ministry, and I can only hope the HEC will not weaken from its revolutionary stand. If the government is interested in reform of HEC, they must wait until the verification to complete as mandated by the Prime Minister.

We have already destroyed our education system, why ruin it further?

The Government has to be respected and trusted to maintain its writ, or there is no other solution. Believe me if the fake degree holders go unpunished, we will suffer for the rest of our lives. It will bring problems for Pakistani’s living locally or abroad, as nobody will trust your genuine degree too. Politicians are a reflection of the society. We are already under a lot of external pressure, let’s at least do something right, and let the HEC and Election Commission of Pakistan remain on the Supreme Court’s orders, and complete the job as fairly as possible.

Pakistan holds the potential to be reformed like any other democratic country. We are going through severe law and order problems and are the direct affectees of the war on terrorism. I pray that the HEC, judiciary and the parliament win this crises for the better of the educational system of Pakistan. We will never forget this “Fake Revolution” if it is meant to be.

syed.ali

Syed Ali Raza Abidi

A businessman who writes on politics and civic issues. He completed his masters in business administration from Boston University. He tweets @abidifactor.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.