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UK officials clueless about Asif’s degree

March 21, 2008

LONDON, March 20: British officials responsible for maintaining record of all educational institutions in the country have failed to find any trace of the institution in London from where Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is claimed to have received his graduation or equivalent qualification.

In a written response to questions by this correspondent, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said: “All that I can share with you on the basis of my information is that Mr Zardari passed his examination and qualified from Cadet College Petaro, Dadu. It was not a degree as the Petaro college is not a degree college.”

When asked about the institution from where Mr Zardari received his degree, he said: “Mr Zardari studied business and economics in a school in London now called (the) London School of Economics and Business.”

The PPP claims that Mr Zardari received his graduation or equivalent degree in 1976 from this school.

Mr Babar said that academic qualifications from London School of Economics and Business were said to be equivalent to a degree, but he did not know the ‘exact title’ of Mr Zardari’s degree and address of the institution.

The PPP spokesman is not the only one who could not find the exact address or existence of the institution. Edubase UK, the country’s official body responsible for maintaining records of all private and public educational institutions, is also clueless.

In a written response to questions about London School of Economics and Business, an Edubase official said: “In order to ascertain whether or not an institution exists, I conduct a search on three registers, Edubase, The Register of Education and Training Providers and the UK Register of Learning Providers. I have been unable to find evidence of this institution.”

An official at the UK Register of Learning Providers said: “Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate London School of Economics and Business.”

Mr Zardari was twice elected as MNA from 1990-93 and 1993-96, remained senator from 1997-99 and served as a federal minister in 1993 and again in 1996.

To become a parliamentarian a minimum degree of graduation is required, a condition introduced in 2002.

Analysts say if Mr Zardari is seeking to be a parliamentarian by contesting from NA-207, the seat of assassinated PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, he will have to submit his degree to the Election Commission. Otherwise, the PPP and its coalition partners will have to do away with the degree requirement through a constitutional amendment.

Credible records of Mr Zardari attending Cadet College in Petaro exist. He joined the college’s Jinnah House in 1966 as a student of eighth grade.

School records show that Mr Zardari completed his Higher Secondary School Education (FA/FSc) in 1974.

Mr Farhatullah Babar said: “The issue of academic qualifications and their equivalence did not arise until now. However, now that the media is asking about it we are trying to gather full details.”