2,000 candidates in last general poll had fake degrees: Panel

February 27, 2013 - 12:00:00 am
ISLAMABAD: More than 2,000 of 9,000 people who contested the 2008 general elections had fake degrees, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Neither the ECP nor Higher Education Commission (HEC) has initiated any action to verify their degrees, officials said yesterday.
Efforts in the past two years focused on the degrees of candidates who won the elections and became MPs. After the graduation degree was declared a requirement to contest elections, some candidates managed to get fake degrees during the 2002 election.
Officials said that after the 2002 elections, those stopped from contesting polls started making efforts to get a degree and the majority of politicians succeeded.
However, according to officials, in most cases, while obtaining a graduation degree, most politicians did not ensure to arrange intermediate and matriculation degrees. 
The politicians who failed to run for the 2002 elections contested the 2008 polls on the basis of fake degrees.
About 13,490 candidates filed nomination papers for around 1,050 seats of the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.
But after scrutiny of papers and withdrawal of nominations, only 9,000 contested the 2008 elections.
Officials believe that around 25 percent of these 9,000 contestants held fake degrees and now they are set to contest the 2013 elections for which the graduation degree is not mandatory.
The ECP issued a list of over 9,000 candidates who ran for the elections in 2008. 
A total of 1,3490 candidates filed nomination papers from November 21 to 26, 2007, for the national and provincial assemblies.
A statement issued by the ECP in December 2007 said that during scrutiny of nomination papers, some 12,443 papers were accepted, while the nominations of 916 candidates, including Pakistan Muslim League-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif were rejected.
The nomination papers of 665 candidates for reserved seats of women and minorities were accepted.
The final list of candidates was released after withdrawal of papers. 
According to the list, about 9,000 candidates contested 1,070 seats in the national and four provincial assemblies. In the general elections, more than 81,000,000 voters were expected to elect their representatives for 272 general seats in the National Assembly and 577 in the four provincial assemblies.