ECP denies backing down on fake degrees' issue
23 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday categorically announced that it has not surrendered on the fake degrees' issue and is determined to carry out verification of election candidates' degrees to achieve the objective of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.
Noting that an impression has been created in a section of media that the ECP has surrendered on the fake degrees' issue, an ECP spokesman clarified on Friday that the commission has not backed down on the matter. He said the commission is determined to implement the judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in letter and spirit and the process of verification of degrees shall be completed to achieve the objective of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.
A senior official at the ECP also informed our sources that there is resistance from the parliamentarians on the commission's decision to verify degrees from the Higher Education Commission. Sources have said that the demand for verification of all educational certificates, like that of matric, FA along with degrees of BA, BSC, MA, MSC and other equivalent educational qualification degrees, need not be pressed after verification of any one degree.
Meanwhile, the ECP official also said that the committee formed by the commission during a meeting with officials of five government institutions for finalising the scrutiny process of the election candidates will hold its meeting in the next three days. The five-member committee comprising representatives of the ECP, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) will finalise the standing operating procedures (SOPs). The finalised SOPs will be provided to the returning officers (ROs) to be appointed by the election commission to receive and scrutinise the nomination papers of the election candidates.
Separate SOPs will be issued for checking of loan defaulters, tax defaulters, convicts from NAB and information about candidates, their spouses and dependants for the facilitation of the returning officers, explained the official. The SOPs relating to the checking of the status of the election candidates about their tax-related matters are to be the most strict one, as the FBR has in its hands data related to the expenditures incurred by the rich during last few years.
Any wrong declaration in the nomination forms would attract objections by the ROs. The SOPs are to include information to be sought from the prospective candidates, that is to say non-filing, nil-filing, short filing of tax returns, failure to meet complete tax obligation, evaded tax, involvement in tax and duty frauds, holding of NTN or not having obtained the NTN and not meeting tax obligations.
The ECP official further informed that once the objection is issued against nomination papers of any candidate, he/she would be required to approach election tribunals to be set up at the provincial high courts' level. The candidates would have the final option to approach the superior judiciary in case any adverse decision is passed by the election tribunal.