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Fake degrees heap ignominy on former lawmakers

April 05, 2013

KARACHI, April 4: It was another tough day for former lawmakers with the courts punishing some of them for having deceived the system by submitting fake academic certificates.

Among the dominos to fall were former MNA Jamshed Dasti, former provincial minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Syed Aqil Shah and PPP’s former MNA from Bahawalpur Sardar Aamir Yar Warren.

In Muzaffargarh, Jamshed Dasti was sent to jail for three years by a district and sessions court.

Mr Dasti, who had won the NA-178 seat twice was also fined Rs5,000 by District and Sessions Judge Abdul Rehman. Hundreds of policemen were in the court during the hearing.

Mr Dasti said on Wednesday that he would not contest elections for NA-177 and NA-178. The judge had framed charges against him and on Wednesday he had presented a new lawyer for his defence who was given one day for preparation.

The conviction ends a chapter in politics of the rise of Mr Dasti from a union council nazim to member of the National Assembly. Hundreds of his supporters had gathered outside the court. Local politician Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmad Khan is reported to have distributed sweets among PPP workers after the sentencing of Mr Dasti.

In Peshawar, former provincial minister Syed Aqil Shah was found guilty by a district and sessions judge of submitting fake graduation degree during the last general elections and sentenced to one-year imprisonment with a fine of Rs3,000.

Mr Shah, who is also president of the Sarhad Olympics Association, was taken into custody and shifted to the Peshawar central prison.

Judge Shehbar Khan said in his short order that he had been convicted under the Representation of People Act of 1976 for corrupt practices.

A large number of supporters of the former minister raised slogans in his favour in the Judicial Complex.

Mr Shah was the chef-de-mission of the national contingent in the London Olympics.

His counsel Aamir Jawed said the verdict would be challenged in the Peshawar High Court.

Mr Shah is a candidate for the PK-4 seat in Peshawar and the returning officer concerned will decide during the scrutiny of his nomination papers on April 7 whether to reject them under Article 63 of the constitution because of the sentence.

Mr Shah was indicted on Nov 1 last year by the district judge on the complaint of the regional election commissioner who said his degree issued by the University of Punjab on Oct 15, 2002, had been scrutinised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and found fake on Aug 5, 2010. Later, Mr Shah allegedly submitted a copy of a BA marks sheet issued on March 3, 2007, by the Newports Institute of Communication and Economics, Karachi. This copy was also not verified by the HEC. In September 2011 he presented a BBA degree issued by the American International College, Lahore, but the HEC said it did not recognise the degree issued by the non-chartered institution.

Shah had claimed that he had submitted only one degree issued by AICL with his nomination papers. He added that he had instituted a civil suit against the AICL which was pending with a senior civil judge in Lahore.

In Bahawalpur, District and Sessions Judge Syed Hamid Shah declared PPP’s former MNA Sardar Aamir Yar Warren a proclaimed offender and ordered confiscation of his property in another fake degree case.

Sardar Warren failed to appear in the court after the dismissal of his writ petition by the Bahawalpur bench of Lahore high Court a day earlier.

Police informed the court that they had raided his residences but could not find him. However, Aamir’s brother-in-law Yasir Warren was arrested for resisting the raid.

The court announced the verdict and issued perpetual warrants for Aamir Warren’s arrest. Police said he owned over 33 kanals and 18 marlas of land.

The court also issued bailable warrants for the arrest of his guarantor Hassan Bakhsh.

The Supreme Court had disqualified Aamir Warren and sent his case for trial to the district and sessions judge. In the by-election for his seat, NA 184, in 2010, his wife Khadeeja Warren was elected on a PPP ticket.

In Quetta, a judge reserved the verdict in a fake degree case against former provincial minister Mir Ali Madad Jhattak till Friday.

Mr Jhattak is deputy general secretary of the PPP and was elected from BP-V, Quetta, in 2008.

Waseem Ahmad Shah in Peshawar, Malik Tahseen Raza in Muzaffargarh, Amanullah Kasi in Quetta and our correspondent in Bahawalpur contributed to the report.