ISLAMABAD: Registration of honorary degrees of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) is a violation of its own decisions taken by its previous management. According to the decisions taken by the previous council headed by retired Justice Shakirullah Jan, no honorary degrees would be registered by the PMDC.

However, the new management has come up with its own interpretation whereby announcing that the council can register honorary degrees and certificates issued by the CPSP. The college of physicians should be held accountable if it is doing anything wrong, it said.

According to a document which contains the decisions taken by the previous management in Feb 2018: “The qualifications/degrees/diplomas such as MRC Path, Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (FCPS) etc., conferred or acquired on honorary basis or foundation basis or without examination by a medical or dental graduate shall not be considered for the purpose of appointment as faculty/examiner/supervisor in the medical or dental institutions of Pakistan and shall not be registered as additional qualifications by the council.”

An official of the council, requesting not to be quoted, claimed that there was no provision of honorary degree in the CPSP due to which they don’t mention that the degree is honorary.

“In 2014-15, the CPSP had informed the council that it had issued only three honorary degrees. However, we observed that since the CPSP issues certificates of FCPS without exit exams and does not mention honorary degree on them, certificate holders can get them registered with the council,” he said.

The official said Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) of the United Kingdom and others mention that the degree is honorary so they are not registered with the PMDC.

“However, recently a member of the council, Dr Amer Bilal, who held a degree in general surgery, got FCPS in thoracic surgery without any examination though surgery is very complicated and sensitive. Moreover, Dr Bilal got the FCPS certificate registered with the PMDC,” he said.

Dr Bilal is not only member of the council but also heads he disciplinary committee of the PMDC which takes actions against doctors over misuse of degrees.

When contacted, Dr Bilal confirmed that he got the degree without appearing in an exam but claimed that there was nothing wrong in it.

“I had never applied for FCPS and even did not want the certificate. There is a committee in the CPSP which nominates persons for the FCPS and I was nominated around three years ago as an acknowledgment/recognition of my services and work as a surgeon,” he said.

“I did FRCS from the UK and have been practicing as thoracic surgeon. I don’t need any degree or certificate for my promotion. In fact, some elements have been doing conspiracy against me as I am trying to bring reforms in colleges and have already directed closure of two colleges,” he said.

Dr Bilal said CPSP had given FCPS certificates to a number of people and all of them could register the certificates with PMDC.

CPSP President Prof Zafarullah Chaudhry said honorary degrees were given to those who did not practice in Pakistan.

“It is correct that we have issued FCPS certificate to Dr Bilal as an acknowledgment of his services. He has done FRCS from UK and has contributed to the field of thoracic surgery. He was given the certificate on the basis of FRCS,” he said.

Council member of CPSP Dr Shoaib Shafi said the CPSP issued three types of degrees: after examination, fellowship without examination and honorary degrees.

“In some cases such as degrees awarded to Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Zaiul Haq, Benazir Bhutto, Prince Karim Aga Khan and Gen Raheel Sharif, cannot be registered with PMDC but doctors can register such degrees with the council. Our law clearly says that annually we can award two degrees in every discipline or speciality.

However, Member PMDC Ali Raza, who is also a legal expert, said as per the 2019 Ordinance of PMDC, CPSP and PMDC were totally different bodies.

“We only register degrees issued by the CPSP so all degrees issued by the CPSP would be registered. If anyone has objection he should contact CPSP rather than PMDC,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019