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148 MNAs, MPAs hold fake degrees, says ex-ECP secretary

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ISLAMABAD: 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.

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Gilani campaigns for fake degree holder

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Asks people to vote for Dasti, announces mega project for city; Dasti says people’s court to make real decision; Muzaffargarh city by-election

MUZAFFARGARH: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani vociferously campaigned on Tuesday for a by-election candidate Jamshaid Dasti, who had to quit his National Assembly seat for holding a fake degree.

Addressing a public meeting at College Ground Multan Road here, the PM announced a mega uplift project for NA-178, and urged the people to vote for Dasti, who chose to resign to avoid being rendered ineligible by the Supreme Court, calling him a real leader of the poor.

Gilani said the PPP government was making long-term policies to steer the country out of the crises. “The PPP had eliminated the politics of self-interest,” he said. MNA Moazam Jatoi, MPAs Ahsan Haq Nolitia, Maher Irshad Sial and Malik Bilal Khar, PPP district president’s brother Rafique Qureshi and Zubaidul Islam Sherwani also spoke on the occasion. Sherwani, Bhatti and Jam families announced support to Dasti.

Earlier, Gilani was warmly received by local PPP office-bearers, government officials, District Bar Association president and general secretary on his arrival at the airport. After addressing the gathering, the prime minister flew back to Islamabad at 7:55 pm.

Agencies add: The PM said President Asif Zardari had spent 14 years in prison while he also spent five years in jail. He clarified that his government was not the outcome of any deal but the masses of Pakistan had elected it.

He said this while talking to reporters at Bahawalpur airport. He said the PPP came to power through the people’s mandate and it would participate in the by-elections. The PM assured the local leaders of solution to workers’ problems at the earliest.

Jamshaid Dasti said he did not commit any crime and whatever the courts may decide, the real decision was to be made by the people’s court. Talking to the PPP office-bearers at Bahawalpur airport, Gilani said the government was paying attention to the neglected areas and steps were being taken to bring them at par with the developed areas.

He said the government would utilise all the resources to provide basic necessities to the people. The prime minister was accompanied by Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Advisor Ghazanfar Gul and Senator Sughra Imam.

Three legislators resign for holding fake degrees

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By Sohail Khan

ISLAMABAD: Two MNAs and one MPA of the Punjab Assembly on Thursday tendered their resignations before the Supreme Court (SC) to avoid disqualification in three different cases of holding fake degrees.

A six-member larger bench of the SC, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ch Ijaz Ahmed, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Rahmat Hussain Jafferi, Justice Tariq Pervez, and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, was hearing their fake-degree cases.

Jamshaid Dasti of the PPP and Nazir Jatt of the PML-Q submitted their resignations before the court. The court directed the Election Commission to arrange by-election in NA-167, Vehari-I; NA-178, Muzzafargarh-III; and PP-63, Faisalabad; in accordance with the law, besides directing the National Assembly secretary to issue a notification of vacant seat of NA-178, Muzzafargarh; within three days.

During the course of hearing, Dasti, who is also the chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Sports, failed to answer a volley of questions by the court.He told the court that he had done a course of Dars-e-Nizami. He, however, remained unable to tell the court even about the duration of the course.

The PPP MNA failed to answer the questions of the court about the total number of Surahs in the Holy Qur’aan, including the names of any of the five Surahs. Justice Ramday questioned Dasti: “How you did the Dars-e-Nizami course, as you even don’t know the names of five Surahs?”

The chief justice remarked that it was impossible for the court to let Dasti scot-free, as he represented parliament, adding: “I think your membership should be suspended.” Justice Khilji Arif Hussain observed that his replies have become shame for parliament. The court, before announcing the verdict, asked him to resign himself, otherwise, the court decision would create difficulties for him, as he would not be able to contest the by-elections.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rauf, the counsel for Dasti, told the court that his client had opted to resign. Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed Jatt of the PML-Q, the MNA from NA-167, Vehari-I, did not appear before the court. However, his counsel told the court that his client had sent his resignation to the National Assembly Secretariat on Wednesday.

He said his client did not resign due to holding of a fake degree, but that he wanted to join the PML-N. Muhammad Ajmal, MPA, from PP-63 (Faisalabad-XIII) also resigned on Thursday due to holding a fake degree. Rana Aftab of the PPP had challenged the election of Ajmal on the grounds that Ajmal had obtained a fake degree from Darul Uloom Mehmoodia, Bannu.

The petitioner submitted that the Wifaqul Madaris had already stated that the Darul Uloom in question was not a recognised institution and the certificate possessed by the respondent was bogus.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

March 26, 2010 at 6:05 am

LHC CJ’s remarks irk NA members

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ISLAMABAD: A reported statement by Lahore High Court Chief Justice (CJ) Khawaja Muhammad Sharif that the Hindu community was funding terrorism in Pakistan, irked members of the National Assembly and many of them from across the party divide joined minority members in a walkout.

The lawmakers also demanded Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry take a suo motu notice of the CJ’s remarks. Ramesh Lal, a minority lawmaker from the Pakistan People’s Party, raised the issue on a point of order and censured the CJ’s remarks, saying the Hindu community in Pakistan was as patriotic as anyone else in the country and the published remarks were highly uncalled for.

Lal announced a token walkout and was joined by some other members belonging to different parties, including the Awami National Party. He said the remarks hurt the sentiments of the over three million Hindus in Pakistan, adding that the statement was against national unity.

Reference: Labour Minister Khursheed Shah tried to defend the CJ, saying he could not have made such a statement and might have referred to India and not the Hindu community. The minister apologised from the Hindu community on behalf of the government. Later, Sports Minister Pir Aftab Shah Jilani and some other MNAs convinced the protesting members to return.

PPP’s Mir Munawar Ahmed Talpur said the CJ’s statement against the Hindu community is condemnable, which seemed to be issued deliberately and should not be defended.

Humayun Saifullah of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid pointed out that the public procurement law was not being followed while spending national resources. He also referred to some media reports about major scams in the government and sought serious action from the prime minister against those responsible.

PPP lawmaker Yousuf Talpur said sales tax should be given to the provinces in line with international practices, adding that the provinces should also be given the right to use their own resources.

Newly-elected member from the PML-Nawaz Pervez Malik stressed the government for developing a strategy to provide relief to the masses, saying the people were fed up of unemployment, price hike and poverty. Speaking on points of order, members from both sides highlighted various problems of the people and urged the government to take measures for their resolution.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

March 17, 2010 at 8:27 am

Burqa issue misunderstood in Pakistan: French embassy

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by: Daily Times

* Spokesman says Salafist groups, who encourage wearing burqa, support terrorists’ ideology
* Says France has Muslim institutions who have been very vocal in opposing burqa
* Paris mosque cleric says burqa wrongly presented as an Islamic tradition * Fact sheet by embassy says current debate not about hijab

ISLAMABAD: Although the ongoing debate on wearing burqa is divisive, a vast majority of the five million Muslims and chairman of the French Council of the Muslim Faith in France do not recognise wearing burqa as part of the Islamic culture nor do they associate it with the dignity of women, hence incompatible with the values of the French Republic, according to a fact sheet issued by the French embassy in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Wearing burqa is encouraged by Salafist groups. They are the ones promoting the burqa, advocating that public schools should not teach biology, girls should not play sports, a male doctor – even in an emergency situation – treat a woman etc. The fact sheet further states, “We have been dealing with those Salafist groups for decades now, we know them well. They support the ideology of the terrorists groups which carried out several bombings in France in the 1990’s. Those very groups, who today claim their allegiance to the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, are testing the resistance capacity of the secular French Republic.”

Vocal opposition: France is home to the largest Muslim community with 2,368 mosques and prayer rooms and two under-construction grand mosques. A French embassy spokesman says, “We have representatives-elected institutions of the Muslim faith. Yet, their position on the burqa is not known in Pakistan. But in fact, they have been very vocal in opposing the burqa. Why? Because they don’t recognise it as part of Islam. They work hard for a successful integration of the Muslim community into the French society.”

He says Muhammad Moussaoui, chairman of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, said to the National Assembly commission, “The council considers that wearing the burqa is not a religious prescription. It is an extreme practice that we don’t want to see growing on the national soil. We have also said the burqa prevents women from having a normal social life.”

Tradition: Dr Dalil Boubakeur, cleric at the Grand Mosque of Paris said, “It is, therefore, obvious that today the burqa is wrongly presented as an Islamic tradition.”

Through the fact sheet, the spokesman claims that the French did not have any issues with the hijab, saying, “We look at the burqa or naqab as a cultural practice coming from other parts of the world and we don’t think it is compatible with the French secular vision of women’s dignity.” He added, “Because it’s not a religious practice, it does not benefit from the protection of the freedom of religion, which France protects dearly. As with polygamy, we don’t think we should accommodate all cultural practices in France.”

The fact sheet further sates that a committee of the French National Assembly had recommended a resolution against the wearing of burqa in France, but no decision had been made yet. It said the ongoing debate was divisive: some members of parliament opposed the ban, some called for a general ban, while others wanted a partial ban enforced only in public places, where it would be compulsory for women to remove their burqa or niqab. It stated that there could be a resolution stating the opposition of the National Assembly to the burqa – without a binding strength. But, it added that, there could be a law banning the burqa, however, its scope would have to be determined by parliament in the next few days and weeks.

Debate: Dwelling further on the subject, the fact sheet stated that the current debate is not at all about the hijab. The hijab is allowed everywhere in France, there is only one restriction for the state primary and secondary schools where all the conspicuous religious signs – crosses, turbans, kippas – are prohibited. This law, which earned overwhelming public support, is aimed at protecting the country’s strictly secular state from religious influence religion. The debate only deals with the burqa and the naqab, the veils that entirely hide the women’s faces.

An all-parties committee from the National Assembly studied the issue for six months, interviewed hundreds of people, including Muslims scholars, clerics, academics, law experts, sociologists and prepared a recommendation for a resolution against the burqa and the niqab. No decision has been made so far. It will be for parliament to vote on a bill, if one is tabled before it. This is how a standard legislative process works in a democracy.

During a press conference on Wednesday at the Islamabad Press Club, Daniel Jouanneau, French ambassador to Pakistan, said France is home to around five million Muslims, and around 2,000 women wore burqa, most of them French. “Vast majorities of French people, including Muslims consider that the wearing of burqa is not compatible with the French secular vision of the women’s dignity,” he said, adding that this is an issue between a small group of French citizens and the French parliament.

The spokesman further stated that “In France, the state has the responsibility to defend human dignity, even sometimes against a citizen’s will and can limit one’s individual freedom.”