By Ansar Abbasi
Almost 148 MNAs and MPAs are feared to be holding fake degrees, disclosed Kanwar Dilshad, the former secretary Election Commission of Pakistan. Dilshad, who retired last year from the Election Commission of Pakistan, and had supervised the 2008 elections, cited intelligence reports as the source of his information. If this is factually true, the dearth of morality at the highest levels of our political culture is stinking, said an analyst.Talking to The News here on Wednesday, Dilshad said the number of petitions pending wever, far less than what the intelligence reports suggest. The incumbent Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmad when contacted said recently the Election Commission had sought the details of such cases from the provincial election commissioners and found that a total of 70 cases of fake degrees came before the election tribunals.He said the election tribunals have so far decided 24 cases whereas another 46 such cases are still pending before different election tribunals. Ishtiaq Ahmad did not know about the intelligence reports as referred to by his predecessor, but he revealed that the ordinary people had started challenging degrees of the MPs even in ordinary courts. As a routine, he said, one or two applications are received by the Election Commission daily from ordinary people, seeking copies of the degrees submitted by the MPs at the time of the filing of their election papers for the Feb 2008 elections.He explained that other than those already challenged in the election tribunals, the degrees of the MPs if found suspicious are also being challenged in a court of civil judge. He said some people opt to directly approach the high courts in such matters. In the 2008 elections, which were held under the election rules and qualifications as set by General Musharraf during his rule, those interested to contest for national or provincial assemblies were required to be at least graduates (holding Bachelor degree).However, later before Asif Ali Zardari’s election as the President of Pakistan, the then Dogar court nullified the condition of BA as the minimum qualification required for the members of the provincial assemblies, the National Assembly and the Senate. The issue of fake degrees of the MPs is in focus of the media recently after at least three MNAs resigned from their membership of the National Assembly after their degrees were proved as fake before the apex court. In order to avoid disqualification, they submitted their resignations in the Supreme Court before any ruling was given by the court. Interestingly, parliament and the government are unmoved on this issue despite reports about growing number of fake degree holders in parliament.