The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Parliamentary Committee‚ formed by the NA speaker to negotiate with the ECP on election procedure and the degrees issue, have agreed that the Higher Education Commission would write letters to the universities concerned for the verification of the lawmakers’ degrees.
However, both parties did not set any deadline for completion of the verification process of over 215 sitting lawmakers.
A senior official of ECP said, “After 15 days, the assemblies will be dissolved…but the way ECP adopted in fake-degree cases hints that the verification process may face delays.”
The ECP, which was directed to verify parliamentarians’ degrees in July 2010, is still badly behind schedule to get the process completed, as 215 degrees are still pending with the HEC.
But it was not playing any significant role to direct parliamentarians to submit documents to the HEC to get their degrees verified.
In Thursday’s meeting, it was decided that the ECP would not directly write letters to the candidates for verification of the degrees, rather it would ask the HEC to write letters to the concerned universities for the verification.
The meeting was attended by Parliamentary Committee chief Law Minister Farooq Naik, the chief election commissioner and the HEC chairman.
The committee apprised the ECP about their reservations, saying they were not opposed to verification exercise, but its procedure.
It was also agreed that if degree of any candidate was found to be bogus, the ECP would issue show-cause notice to the concerned candidate.
The committee told the ECP that it had full confidence in the commission’s ability to hold free‚ fair and transparent elections.
Later, talking to reporters, Naik said aspiring candidates would have to submit their original degrees along with nomination papers in the upcoming general elections.
He said the negotiations on the issue of fake degrees of parliamentarians had been successful.
The law minister said it was the responsibility of the university to verify the degrees of candidates at the earliest.
To a question, Naik said the Pakistan People’s Party had full confidence in the chief election commissioner and other EC members, adding that the government would not allow anyone to postpone election.