LAHORE - Though comfortably ruling the Centre and the Punjab, the disqualification of its parliamentarians is badly haunting the PML-N as it has lost larger number of its members for having fake degrees than any other party only in 10 months.
In view of the fact that the PML-N in the last term of the PPP had lost more than a dozen parliamentarians for fake degrees, more than all other parties within the relevant time, the party leadership had announced before the last elections to thoroughly scrutinize the candidates who might stigmatise the party through disqualification on bogus degrees or failing the test of articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution. But the party appears still struggling to deal with the situation as its parliamentarians are continuing to fall prey to the academic qualification.
The latest is Sardar Muhammad Khan Jatoi who was elected an MPA on the PML-N ticket from PP-259, Muzaffargarh. He has been disqualified by the election tribunal for possessing a bogus graduation degree on a plea by his rival, Sardar Samiullah Khan of PPP, who lost the May election to Sardar just by 4,000 votes.
Last week, an election tribunal disqualified PML-N MNA Aijaz Chaudhry for possessing a bogus degree. He was elected from NA-108 (Mandi Bahauddin), but his election was challenged by his rival, Mumtaz Ahmad.
On the heels of Aijaz’s disqualification, came action against PML-N MNA Mudassar Qayyum Nahra by the Lahore High Court. Nahra, who returned to the Assembly from NA-100 Gujranwala, was also disqualified for holding a fake degree. The court ordered by-election on his vacant seat within two months.
Nahra wanted to exercise the choice of resigning from the seat to ward off disqualification and, later, take part in a by-election, but the court stopped him from doing so.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified PML-N lawmaker Sumaira Malik for the Parliament seat on the ground of a fake graduation degree. The apex court suspended the March 2008 notification issued by ECP declaring her a returned candidate from NA-69, Khushab. Malik Umar Aslam Awan, a losing candidate in 2008, had filed an appeal against Ms Malik
The PML-N also lost an important seat, PP-72, Faisalabad, which the PTI candidate won following disqualification of PML-N MPA Khawaja Islam on the charges of possessing a fake bachelor degree which failed to receive authenticity from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
On October 22, 2013, the election tribunal at Abbottabad disqualified Mian Ziaur Rehman, a PML-N MPA from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, over his fake degree. He had been elected from KP-54.
The PML-N also suffered a setback in Balochistan when the Supreme Court disqualified its MPA, Mir Abdul Ghafoor Lehri, after he failed to submit his graduation degree. Lehri who is senior vice-president of the party’s Balochistan chapter had won the election from PB-29, Nasirabad. The apex court had allowed him to contest the election on the condition that if he failed to produce his BA degree, he would be disqualified even after winning the seat.
On January 9 last, the election tribunal disqualified PML-N MPA from PK, Qaimoos Khan, on the charge of concealing facts about his educational degrees and ordered re-election in his constituency, PK-86, Swat-VII. Haidar Khan Hoti had questioned his election.
As regards the loss of other leading parties, it is the PTI which on September 27 last faced a severe blow when its communications and works minister, Yousuf Ayub Khan, was declared by the election tribunal ineligible for holding a fake degree.
Yousaf, the grandson of former President Ayub Khan, had contested the last election from PK-50, Haripur, defeating former education minister Qazi Muhammad Asad with a close margin.
Another jolt came to the PTI when it lost MNA Ghulam Sarwar Khan whose was disqualified by the Supreme Court over an invalid academic degree. Ghulam Sarwar had defeated Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan from NA-53, Rawalpindi, in the May polls.
PPP MNA from NA-209, Sindh, Mir Shabbir Ali Bijarani, also had a narrow escape when he proved his degree valid before the SHC on a petition filed by Tahir Hassan Khoso. A similar situation happened to PPP’s Shazia Marri who also survived.
It may be mentioned that after the May last election 107 degrees were sent to the HEC either from the court or ECP for verification most of which are still under process or in the holdover.
According to the published figures, around 50 degree cases of PML-N MNAs and MPAs and 24 of PTI’s are pending before the commission.
The Constitution defines the holder of a fake degree as dishonest, not eligible to hold a Parliament seat.