Sunday, May 16, 2010


On the one hand Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says that parliament is being disgraced by the issue of fake degrees of parliamentarians, on the other he feels no qualms about addressing an election rally on behalf of a proved cheater Jamshed Dasti, who had admitted before the Supreme Court of Pakistan that his degree was fake and had resigned from his seat in the National Assembly. What is even more regrettable is that the Pakistan People’s Party’s parliamentary board, which does not seems to care about its party members’ character, again decided to field Jamshed Dasti for a by-election.

While defending the PPP’s decision to award the ticket to Jamshed Dasti, Prime Minister Gilani called on other parties not to give tickets to those holding fake degrees. Can there be a better example of double speak? What high moral ground does Mr Gilani have to call upon others to do what his own party is not doing? Perhaps he had better set his own house in order first before lecturing others.

While one does not agree with the condition of a bachelor’s degree for contesting elections for national and provincial assemblies, which tends to limit universal franchise, it was incumbent upon the contestants to follow the election rules and not resort to unfair means. Also, the Election Commission (EC) was expected to verify the academic qualifications of all the candidates to ascertain their verity, given the ease with which forgeries are commonplace in Pakistan. Failure to do so has landed the EC in an unenviable situation, where it still has to deal with 46 election petitions pertaining to fake degrees, filed after the 2008 general election. Moreover, allowing madrassa degree-holders to contest elections further complicated the situation, because neither is the madrassa degree equivalent to the bachelor’s degree issued by our regular education system, nor is there any way to ascertain independently whether the concerned holder had indeed completed his education in a madrassa or not. Thus the ‘graduate assemblies’ plan of General Musharraf was highly flawed, conceptually, in principle, and in implementation.

Although the condition of academic qualification had been lifted in 2008, for future all the political parties, including the PPP, should at least ensure that their respective elected representatives do not have a proven fraudulent character.
Courtesy DAILY TIMES Saturday, May 15

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