An exclsive report on “Hakeem” Babar Awan! by Ansar Abbasi!
ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education that the University of Monticello, US, from where Law Minister Babar Awan claims to have done his PhD, is a non-recognised and non-chartered university, it is learnt.
HEC Chairman Javed Leghari, when approached, confirmed on Saturday that the commission had recently received a formal query from the NA Committee on Education Chairman Abid Sher Ali regarding the standing of the University of Monticello and its mandate to offer PhD programmes. Leghari disclosed that the HEC verification proved the university was non-recognised and non-chartered. “We have formally informed the NA committee chairman about the fact,” Leghari said.
According to sources, Abid Sher Ali had recently approached the HEC to verify the standing of the university after the media reports about the dubious status of Babar Awan’s doctorate. Although ‘The News’ broke the story of Babar Awan PhD degree as being fake in November 2008, the HEC’s letter to the NA Committee on Education chairman regarding the standing of the Monticello University is the official confirmation of the fact.
It is yet to be seen as to how the NA committee or the Election Commission of Pakistan would proceed as it involves a federal minister, who appears to be more powerful than even the prime minister because of his close association with the president.
It is pertinent to note here that the United States Educational Foundation (USEF) in Pakistan has already confirmed that the University of Monticello was never allowed to offer degree programmes, including PhD. “It was a fraud,” the USEF Pakistan has written to this newspaper when approached in Nov 2008.
The minister, however, while admitting to have done his PhD from the same university insisted that his doctorate degree was genuine. However, the latest finding of the HEC about the Monticello University, now formally conveyed to the NA committee, is a subtle disclaimer of the Government of Pakistan to the minister’s claim. In his letter, the Standing Committee on Education chairman only inquired about the university and did not name the minister.
When asked if the commission would also verify the post-graduation and PhD degrees of MPs who claim to have done masters and PhD, the HEC chairman said such questions do not pertain to the commission, which is only there to do the verification work.
Leghari assured that the HEC would honestly and professionally do its work without any fear and favour or taking into consideration political pressure from any side. He said the verification of the degrees of parliamentarians, already referred to the commission, would be completed by July 16. Leghari said the universities concerned had been given the deadline of 13th of July to send their reports on the degrees already referred to them.
According to the HEC chairman, out of the 161 cases of degrees of parliamentarians referred back to the Election Commission of Pakistan recently, degrees of 20 parliamentarians are still missing while the ECP has submitted the degrees of the remaining ones.