ISLAMABAD - The federal government on Saturday decided to broaden investigations in Axact scam by saying that FIA would contact US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Interpol for assistance in connection with the alleged fake degree sale scandal.

"As some facts have come before us during investigations, so Ministry of Interior is writing to the FBI within two days to seek legal assistance in the light of some incidents happened in US on Axact Company issue," Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said while addressing a press conference here at the Punjab House.

Interpol is also being contacted to get details of those so-called universities who have come on radar during investigations, the minister said. He said that it had yet to decide whether British authorities should be requested for legal assistance or not. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has already written to SECP (Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Pakistan Software Association seeking their input on the scam, he informed.

"The entire picture would be clear within seven days. Substantive evidence has come before FIA and we are seeking help of international institutions because of the same reason," the minister said. He said that the company registered with SECP in 2006 but got involved in other business. If FIA had not acted in time, large part of evidence might have been erased, he said.

The interior minister also said that some accounts of Axact company were being verified and some had been seized as inflow of millions of dollars had been observed in some of its accounts. So, the aspect of money laundering could also been included in the case in future.

He said the criticism on the government was unnecessary that why it could not detect this fraud going on in the country for many years. Fake degrees were also awarded in US, British and Middle Eastern countries and these states also could not unearth this scam. Even a UK court in 2007 sentenced a fake degree holder of Axact but never ordered investigations against the company, he added.

However, the minister rebutted some media reports that a decision had been taken to register an FIR against the famous software company of Pakistan, Axact, which also owns a media house known as BOL Media Group. "FIA would take the decision on the issue of registration of FIR after seven to 10 days once initial inquiry would be completed," the minister said.

The FIA laws provide for 90 days to register an FIR after the launch of inquiry and only if initial inquiry proved an accused guilty. But as the media is taking interest in the case, so FIA would complete the initial inquiry in 7 to 10 days, he said. He also assured that the probe against Axact would be held in a complete transparent manner and would be taken to its logical end. "We will not succumb to (pressure from) anyone," he said.

Announcing that the progress of FIA made so far in the case was satisfactory, interior minister also disassociated himself and his ministry from inquiry and said that interior ministry had no connection with the inquiry.

"The ministry just took notice on news of an international newspaper. But one thing the ministry wants is to fix the time period of inquiry, another thing is that the ministry wants to know whether FIA has the expertise to probe the matter or we would have to seek foreign help, and third thing is media handling," he said.

Responding to questions, he said that it was the duty of Pemra to vacate stay order got by BOL Media Group from a court against cancellation of its security clearance NOC by the Ministry of Interior. The minister said that media houses were united on Axact scam issue and hoped that they would also show same unity against corruption. "Why is media not showing unity against those fake degree holders who may be sitting in the Parliament and government departments?" he asked.

Nisar once again requested the media not to mention anonymous sources of FIA in the news stories about Axact scam saying that such reporting had a negative impact on the investigation process. He said that information could be sought from two FIA directors Inam Ghani and Shahid Hayat who were heading the investigations in Islamabad and Karachi respectively.

About the issue of alleged rigging in 2013 general elections, the minister said that PTI Chairman Imran was time and again giving reference of his statement made in the National Assembly that 60,000 to70,000 votes could not be verified. "I still stand by my statement as Nadra system could not read these votes," he said. These votes are neither non-verifiable nor fake but these are unreadable, he said.

"Out of the 58 petitions filed by PTI in election tribunals, it got favourable decision only in three petitions while 46 of their pleas were rejected,” said and asked Imran Khan, “Let the judicial commission decide the issue of rigging and don't add confusion in the case."

Nisar Ali Khan without mentioning the name of former PML-N MNA and columnist Ayaz Amir also criticised him saying that a former party MNA was unnecessarily using media space to write against him. "Don't use the space of newspaper to settle personal scores," he said. He also called the recent investigative report of Seymour Hersh about presence of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad as nonsense.

JOURNALISTS QUIT BOL: Monitoring Desk adds: Several senior journalists on Saturday quit BOL Network, whose parent company, Axact, is under investigation after a New York Times story alleged it was involved in a global fake degree scam.

Kamran Khan, Azhar Abbas, Iftikahr Ahmed, Wajahat S Khan, Asma Shirazi, and Nusrat Javed have left the network. "I have resigned from BOL after speaking to my editors and staff. I did put together a great team of journalists. Wish them best," Abbas said in a tweet.

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