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Sanam Fatima

Info on Alim from Pakistan

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Salam,

Our community in South Eastern US is inviting an Alim from Pakistan for recitation of Moharrum majalis. His name is Dr. Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi. I wanted to get some information on him as the MSA at my university is planning an inter-faith event and I was wondering if Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi would be the right kind of person to project the shia image. I mean I don't want a traditional alim to go on stage and start talking about the never ending differences.

I would be grateful if some members can share their opinion of Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi.

Thanks,

Fatima

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i put his name in google just to see what comes up, and at the top of the list is this.

http://pseudoscholar.com/

I have no idea if its true, i doubt it , but its an interesting read none the less.

hmm.....this is what I found http://www.cii.gov.pk/about/members.asp#12

he appears to be quiet an scholar.... see this is what the website says about him....

" Dr. Syed Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi

Born on August 04, 1958. Holds Degree B.A. Islamic Studies from University of Karachi in 1978, M.A. Islamic Studies from University of Karachi in 1990, Ph.D. Comprarative Religion from N.C. State University, The Synoptic Gospel in 1995, H.I.E. Higher Islamic Education from Najaf Iraq in 1991-97.

Prior to modern education, he completed religious education up to the highest degree available in Pakistan from traditional Madaris. Have knowledge of Arabic, Persian, English and Urdu languages.

Authored, Fehm-i-Islam kay Jadid Khutut, Madhhab Aur Mu'ashira, Dehsht Gardi: Asbab, Nata'ij uar Hal, The Qur'an A comparative Study, 2 Vols, The Blessed Eyes, Imam Mehdi and the Sayings of Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), The Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and his days (Urdu). Also translated into Urdu various books and articles.

Praticipated in individual and other penal programs on socio-religious issues from time to time on different T.V. Channels.

he has a vast teaching experience in various institutions such as Institute of Islamic Culture Research, Karachi, Zehra Publication International (South Africa, London and Pakistan), and Islamic Center North Carolina. "

Do we have someone from NC here where this person has worked?

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^Well if you think hes quite a scholar then just get him. I dont think folk over here would be more reliable than a dept of the govt of Pakistan. Or why dont you listen to some of his existing lectures and see for yourself whether hes suitable or not.

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^Well if you think hes quite a scholar then just get him. I dont think folk over here would be more reliable than a dept of the govt of Pakistan. Or why dont you listen to some of his existing lectures and see for yourself whether hes suitable or not.

Oh well, apparently he is already coming to US. My only concern is if I should recommend Dr. Mohsin Naqvi for the interfaith event. But after visiting the http://pseudoscholar.com/ I am not sure anymore.

Quick question, wouldn't the govt. of Pakistan check a person's credentials before appointing him to a post of such responsibility?? How could that be?

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^Well if you think hes quite a scholar then just get him. I dont think folk over here would be more reliable than a dept of the govt of Pakistan. Or why dont you listen to some of his existing lectures and see for yourself whether hes suitable or not.

I dont think folk over here would be more reliable than a dept of the govt of Pakistan.

Brother may be you are not aware of the situation in Pakistan. I know for a fact that many Pakistani politicians have fake degrees and the govt has been complicit in their lies. What makes this case different though is that Mohsin Muzaffar Naqvi is a religious scholar.

http://pseudoscholar.com/ is an interesting website. I wish someone could actually contact the universities in North Carolina and confirm the claims of Mohsin Naqvi.

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Hello,

Look what I found on the credibility of govt. of Pakistan. After reading the following I would be extra cautious about academic credentials of people in govt. of Pakistan.

The article cab be found on http://www.chowk.com/articles/8402

Fake Degrees for the Big Boys in Pakistan

Q Isa Daudpota November 28, 2004

Tags: corruption , education

In the past if you had the money you could buy anything, even happiness. That’s if happiness came through acquiring a university degree. Not much has changed over the years, except that it got easier to buy a degree.

Fake degrees have been sold in Pakistan for a long time. Now, though, the scope of it has enlarged considerably with many shady outfits offering degrees in return for little or no work. A degree of choice is yours for a fraction of what it would cost to attend university and do the hard work. Old methods, of course, continue with enhanced brazenness, as the recent case of degrees’ fraud at Sialkot illustrates. It was there that blank degree certificates from the Allama Iqbal Open University and other public and private degree-awarding institutions were recovered. A gang of three acquired these certificates in connivance with the universities’ officials. This serious offence, has elicited no comment from the national education authorities, and the press has failed to follow-up on this story. Have the lax officials under whose noses this happened been punished, and have systems been installed to avoid a repeat?

Global competition and the increasing pressure on jobs nationally has triggered many shady businesses to innovate beyond the old fashioned way of stealing degree blanks. Efficient delivery of any (fake) degree certificate from accredited universities is now possible from a variety of sources advertised in prestigious journals such as the Economist and in Pakistani newspapers. The money needed compared with proper university charge is negligible and you can have a degree certificate of choice within days, thanks to the internet. Academic work, if required of the aspirant, is minimal.

Cheap degrees from the North

There are safety engineers at nuclear plants and biological weapons expert, at NATO headquarters and at the Pentagon who have phony degrees, according to a recent CBS News report. According to Alan Contreras who cracks down diploma mills for Oregon state, “you don’t want somebody with a fake degree working in Homeland Security … or teaching your kids or designing bridges.” CBS reports that they found employees with diploma mill degrees in sensitive departments such as the new Transport Security Administration, the Defence Intelligence Agency and the Department of Treasury and Education. Kennington University, which was forced out of business in California and Hawaii was the alma mater of Florida State Rep. Jennifer Carroll, who just stepped down from the National Commission on Presidential Scholars.

When some of these people were questioned they said they worked hard and thought their degrees were legitimate. Being cornered, they are clearly trying to hoodwink others. The US Council for Higher Education Accreditation, http://www.chea.org , lists all the US accredited institutions, and there is little chance that such otherwise well-informed people would fail to carry out this elementary check.

The law has caught up with several and will increasing bite hard. In the following cases, credit goes to the prestigious US weekly the Chronicle of Higher Education (www.chronicle.org) for exposing fake degree holders, which led to their expulsion. Tulane University fired a part-time instructor, as was, ironically, Michael Davis, a member of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Davis had a doctorate from Saint Regis University, which claims recognition from the government of war-torn Liberia, and requires virtually no academic work. He was booted out of the board.

Action against the bogus degree outfits has also begun in the UK. In early 2003 a joint operation of the US and UK authorities closed down 14 made-up institutions and which were used by hundreds of unqualified people, mainly in North America, to gain professional jobs.

The UK government is already questioning the American University in London (AUL) about the use of the word “university” in its title. This unaccredited “university”, was founded by a Pakistani nuclear chemist, Dr Khurshid Khan (deceased). A Guardian report of Sept 9, 2003, mentions a visit to AUL to talk to Dr Hussein Alzubaidi, an Iraqi, and current chancellor and CEO of the “university”. His office is above a betting shop!

They have 500 students paying Pounds 4,975 a year to do a range of degree up to PhD, which are offered in nearly 30 subjects ranging from accounting to urban planning. Its degrees are not accepted in UK, or anywhere else, as it is an unaccredited university offering sub-standard courses.

I checked Alzubaidi on the web and there seems to have been nothing published by him. This is a characteristic he shares with, Peter James Sage, the chancellor of the UK affiliate of Preston University – the newly enlarged Halifax University, which like Preston is unaccredited. To avoid scrutiny, neither AUL, Preston nor Halifax show a faculty list. This is contrary to standard practice for all accredited universities. (Preston has 15 campuses in Pakistan, three of them being chartered, i.e. accredited by Pakistan, while the parent university remains unaccredited in the US, where it is headquartered. Preston, like AUL, has a Pakistani founder.)

Fake degrees here too

It was in 2003 that I interviewed two persons (one with a bachelor’s and the other with a doctorate) for a faculty position at a new university in Lahore. The unusual names of the universities prompted me to check them on the Internet and my suspicions were vindicated. The person with the doctorate claimed that he had flown over to London from Canada to do some required practical computer work for six weeks at the American University in London (AUL at www.aul.edu). An internet search quickly led me to look at its connections in Pakistan. Looking deeper led to many strange connections…

The website http://www.aul.edu/pakistan.htm lists AUL affiliated institutions in Pakistan, all of which looked suspicious. These were brought to the attention of the Higher Education Commission with a request that they investigate the AUL link. The website shows five others in Punjab and Sindh] If the Punjab and Sindh governments wish to restore their educational authority, they should, in tow with HEC, check out the AUL affiliates and similar dubious institutes.

The Islamabad-based Pakistan Futuristic Foundation and Institute’s (PFFI) founder obtained a degree from AUL. He has, in turn, supervised the AUL PhD thesis of the Rector of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), also in the capital. Confirmation of this came from the Dean of the Faculty of Advanced Integrated Studies (FAIS) at NUML. She is in-charge of all PhD research at the university.

The FAIS is the brainchild of the founder of PFFI. It probably took shape around the time that PFFI severed its link with AUL, and moved its AUL-registered PhD students to NUML, then known as NIML (“I” stood for Institute).

Three NUML PhD theses are available in the HEC’s library, but not in NUML’s. The Dean of FAIS told me that NUML would only make them available in their own library after the convocation is held. The awardees have of course already started being referred to as Doctors. NUML has not had any convocation since Nov 2000 (when it awarded the first PhD), which ought to an annual event for any good, functioning university.

It struck me that NUML has awarded PhDs in record time. Prior to 29 May 2000, NUML was an institute (named NIML) affiliated with the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU). PhDs were awarded to two English department professors (one of them the department’s head) in Nov 2000 and May 2001. That’s a PhD in 6 months after getting chartered!

More seriously, the head of the University Grants Commission from 1997 to 2001 managed to get a PhD in Education in June 2001 from NUML. His thesis had been submitted to NUML “through” the PFFI. On relinquishing charge at the UGC he moved to the vice-chancellorship of QAU. It was during his term of service at the UGC that NIML’s charter was considered, and that’s exactly when he was registered as a student there. The UGC (that later became HEC) is an institution which funds universities and gives recommendations for the award of a charter to a university.

If the work on the three theses started prior to NIML getting a charter, their outline of research work required approval by the Board of Advanced Studies and Research of QAU, of which NIML was an affiliated institute prior to May 2000. That no reference to any NIML theses exists at QAU was confirmed by a notable academic with access to such records there. According to the same person, NIML may not have authorization from QAU to offer any degree above Master’s.

NUML has now many thousands of students, with several hundreds registered in the MPhil and PhD programs in many subjects, according to one of its faculty members. Here’s an institute that lies in the shadow of the HEC, the body empowered to maintain standards in our universities. The way out of the current mess is clear, but it will require great resolve and courage. Let’s hope that exists.

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This is indeed very interesting information. Looks like govt officials in Pakistan invent degrees for themselves. But I just tried http://pseudoscholar.com/ and its not working...

Hello,

Look what I found on the credibility of govt. of Pakistan. After reading the following I would be extra cautious about academic credentials of people in govt. of Pakistan.

The article cab be found on http://www.chowk.com/articles/8402

Fake Degrees for the Big Boys in Pakistan

Q Isa Daudpota November 28, 2004

Tags: corruption , education

In the past if you had the money you could buy anything, even happiness. That’s if happiness came through acquiring a university degree. Not much has changed over the years, except that it got easier to buy a degree.

Fake degrees have been sold in Pakistan for a long time. Now, though, the scope of it has enlarged considerably with many shady outfits offering degrees in return for little or no work. A degree of choice is yours for a fraction of what it would cost to attend university and do the hard work. Old methods, of course, continue with enhanced brazenness, as the recent case of degrees’ fraud at Sialkot illustrates. It was there that blank degree certificates from the Allama Iqbal Open University and other public and private degree-awarding institutions were recovered. A gang of three acquired these certificates in connivance with the universities’ officials. This serious offence, has elicited no comment from the national education authorities, and the press has failed to follow-up on this story. Have the lax officials under whose noses this happened been punished, and have systems been installed to avoid a repeat?

Global competition and the increasing pressure on jobs nationally has triggered many shady businesses to innovate beyond the old fashioned way of stealing degree blanks. Efficient delivery of any (fake) degree certificate from accredited universities is now possible from a variety of sources advertised in prestigious journals such as the Economist and in Pakistani newspapers. The money needed compared with proper university charge is negligible and you can have a degree certificate of choice within days, thanks to the internet. Academic work, if required of the aspirant, is minimal.

Cheap degrees from the North

There are safety engineers at nuclear plants and biological weapons expert, at NATO headquarters and at the Pentagon who have phony degrees, according to a recent CBS News report. According to Alan Contreras who cracks down diploma mills for Oregon state, “you don’t want somebody with a fake degree working in Homeland Security … or teaching your kids or designing bridges.” CBS reports that they found employees with diploma mill degrees in sensitive departments such as the new Transport Security Administration, the Defence Intelligence Agency and the Department of Treasury and Education. Kennington University, which was forced out of business in California and Hawaii was the alma mater of Florida State Rep. Jennifer Carroll, who just stepped down from the National Commission on Presidential Scholars.

When some of these people were questioned they said they worked hard and thought their degrees were legitimate. Being cornered, they are clearly trying to hoodwink others. The US Council for Higher Education Accreditation, http://www.chea.org , lists all the US accredited institutions, and there is little chance that such otherwise well-informed people would fail to carry out this elementary check.

The law has caught up with several and will increasing bite hard. In the following cases, credit goes to the prestigious US weekly the Chronicle of Higher Education (www.chronicle.org) for exposing fake degree holders, which led to their expulsion. Tulane University fired a part-time instructor, as was, ironically, Michael Davis, a member of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Davis had a doctorate from Saint Regis University, which claims recognition from the government of war-torn Liberia, and requires virtually no academic work. He was booted out of the board.

Action against the bogus degree outfits has also begun in the UK. In early 2003 a joint operation of the US and UK authorities closed down 14 made-up institutions and which were used by hundreds of unqualified people, mainly in North America, to gain professional jobs.

The UK government is already questioning the American University in London (AUL) about the use of the word “university” in its title. This unaccredited “university”, was founded by a Pakistani nuclear chemist, Dr Khurshid Khan (deceased). A Guardian report of Sept 9, 2003, mentions a visit to AUL to talk to Dr Hussein Alzubaidi, an Iraqi, and current chancellor and CEO of the “university”. His office is above a betting shop!

They have 500 students paying Pounds 4,975 a year to do a range of degree up to PhD, which are offered in nearly 30 subjects ranging from accounting to urban planning. Its degrees are not accepted in UK, or anywhere else, as it is an unaccredited university offering sub-standard courses.

I checked Alzubaidi on the web and there seems to have been nothing published by him. This is a characteristic he shares with, Peter James Sage, the chancellor of the UK affiliate of Preston University – the newly enlarged Halifax University, which like Preston is unaccredited. To avoid scrutiny, neither AUL, Preston nor Halifax show a faculty list. This is contrary to standard practice for all accredited universities. (Preston has 15 campuses in Pakistan, three of them being chartered, i.e. accredited by Pakistan, while the parent university remains unaccredited in the US, where it is headquartered. Preston, like AUL, has a Pakistani founder.)

Fake degrees here too

It was in 2003 that I interviewed two persons (one with a bachelor’s and the other with a doctorate) for a faculty position at a new university in Lahore. The unusual names of the universities prompted me to check them on the Internet and my suspicions were vindicated. The person with the doctorate claimed that he had flown over to London from Canada to do some required practical computer work for six weeks at the American University in London (AUL at www.aul.edu). An internet search quickly led me to look at its connections in Pakistan. Looking deeper led to many strange connections…

The website http://www.aul.edu/pakistan.htm lists AUL affiliated institutions in Pakistan, all of which looked suspicious. These were brought to the attention of the Higher Education Commission with a request that they investigate the AUL link. The website shows five others in Punjab and Sindh] If the Punjab and Sindh governments wish to restore their educational authority, they should, in tow with HEC, check out the AUL affiliates and similar dubious institutes.

The Islamabad-based Pakistan Futuristic Foundation and Institute’s (PFFI) founder obtained a degree from AUL. He has, in turn, supervised the AUL PhD thesis of the Rector of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), also in the capital. Confirmation of this came from the Dean of the Faculty of Advanced Integrated Studies (FAIS) at NUML. She is in-charge of all PhD research at the university.

The FAIS is the brainchild of the founder of PFFI. It probably took shape around the time that PFFI severed its link with AUL, and moved its AUL-registered PhD students to NUML, then known as NIML (“I” stood for Institute).

Three NUML PhD theses are available in the HEC’s library, but not in NUML’s. The Dean of FAIS told me that NUML would only make them available in their own library after the convocation is held. The awardees have of course already started being referred to as Doctors. NUML has not had any convocation since Nov 2000 (when it awarded the first PhD), which ought to an annual event for any good, functioning university.

It struck me that NUML has awarded PhDs in record time. Prior to 29 May 2000, NUML was an institute (named NIML) affiliated with the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU). PhDs were awarded to two English department professors (one of them the department’s head) in Nov 2000 and May 2001. That’s a PhD in 6 months after getting chartered!

More seriously, the head of the University Grants Commission from 1997 to 2001 managed to get a PhD in Education in June 2001 from NUML. His thesis had been submitted to NUML “through” the PFFI. On relinquishing charge at the UGC he moved to the vice-chancellorship of QAU. It was during his term of service at the UGC that NIML’s charter was considered, and that’s exactly when he was registered as a student there. The UGC (that later became HEC) is an institution which funds universities and gives recommendations for the award of a charter to a university.

If the work on the three theses started prior to NIML getting a charter, their outline of research work required approval by the Board of Advanced Studies and Research of QAU, of which NIML was an affiliated institute prior to May 2000. That no reference to any NIML theses exists at QAU was confirmed by a notable academic with access to such records there. According to the same person, NIML may not have authorization from QAU to offer any degree above Master’s.

NUML has now many thousands of students, with several hundreds registered in the MPhil and PhD programs in many subjects, according to one of its faculty members. Here’s an institute that lies in the shadow of the HEC, the body empowered to maintain standards in our universities. The way out of the current mess is clear, but it will require great resolve and courage. Let’s hope that exists.

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Salam,

Our community in South Eastern US is inviting an Alim from Pakistan for recitation of Moharrum majalis. His name is Dr. Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi. I wanted to get some information on him as the MSA at my university is planning an inter-faith event and I was wondering if Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi would be the right kind of person to project the shia image. I mean I don't want a traditional alim to go on stage and start talking about the never ending differences.

I would be grateful if some members can share their opinion of Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi.

Thanks,

Fatima

no doubt hes a great alim but... sum comunication lacks exist

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no doubt hes a great alim but... sum comunication lacks exist

hi,

great alim...???? how did you arrive at this conclusion??? go and visit the website of council of islamic ideology and see for yourself that none of the members have any formal education in islamic sciences...they have degrees in ecomics and law and classical languages.

with all due respect to other fields, i think everyone would agree that no amount of non-religious knowledge can substantiate for proficiency in Quran and Sun'na.

apart from that, everyone knows that Musharruf used this body to further his own enlightened moderation agenda at the behest of his masters. some political parties in pakistan have voiced serious concern over the members of Council of Islamic Ideology.

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Hello,

Another interesting article on fake degrees in Pakistan. Dr. Mohsin Muzzaffar Naqvi is not alone!

Published in Dawn on Nov. 14, 2004

Fake degrees make their presence felt in Pakistan

By Omar R. Quraishi

One effect that electronic commerce (e-commerce) has had on Pakistan is that it has made quite easy the acquisition of a degree through a degree ’mill’. Most degree ’mills’ offer degrees - PhDs included - for a price.

Most are based in the west but realizing that considerable demand for foreign degrees exists in developing countries, are now focusing their ’marketing’ energies on people in countries like Pakistan. People who obviously do not have the academic skills or knowledge to earn a degree the traditional and conventional way but do have the money to purchase.

During any given week, this writer receives unsolicited email from at least such degree factory. The amounts charged depend on the level of the degree and can be paid via the Internet if one has a credit card.

For example, a visit to the website www.diplomaone.com allows anyone with a credit card to (a) ’order’ an accredited university degree and have it delivered in 30 days or (B) to acquire a ’graduation degree’ based on "work history, life experience and previous college credits", also in 30 days. At the time this writer went on the said website, the following message was posted on it: "We are currently not taking orders. Please visit the links below for a high school or college degree.

All Current orders are being processed and will ship very soon!! Thank you. Diplomaone Staff".

At the same time that this is happening, the government’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) has stepped in and decided to do something to increase the number of PhDs produced every year in Pakistan. Research institutions and universities are being given funding to upgrade their facilities, to hire supervisors and to pay faculty members, especially those with doctorates, higher salaries. Someone with a PhD degree can expect to earn around Rs 100,000 per month or more.

Add to this the condition imposed by the military government before the last election of requiring candidates to have degrees. Many stories did the rounds of various members of parliament basically purchasing such fraudulent degrees over the Internet or from local institutions.

Some cases were also filed and in one a sitting legislator was unseated after it was found that his degree was fraudulent. To accommodate dozens of members of the MMA, the degree offered by the madressahs (called ’sanads’) was granted equivalence to a bachelor’s degree by the government, only to threaten revoking it at the height of the MMA’s tussle with the government over the 17th amendment. At least one member of the present cabinet claims to hold a high academic qualification from an unknown university but obviously this is something the HEC does not want to tread on.

Other than politicians, reports appeared in newspapers suggesting that at the very least the HEC needed to sharpen the mechanism through which it granted accreditation to local universities. Some of these universities granted degrees based on their affiliation with foreign institutions and the problem was that these foreign ’institutions’ existed only on paper or were simply one room offices churning out pieces of paper (with roman lettering and academic seals) and passing them off as degrees to whoever would buy them.

Since this was a new trend, although catching on very much of late, in the country most people, even those with more than a passing interest in higher education, didn’t really notice it too much. However, one person did: Q. Isa Daudpota.

read below...Dr. Daudpota paid the price for bringing to light the fake degree issue!

Fired for speaking up

Currently working at COMSTECH’s Centre for Frontier Technologies in Islamabad (headed by Dr Ataur Rahman who also happens to be head of the Higher Education Commission), Daudpota has written extensively in the English-language press on this issue. In various articles and letters he talked about how some local universities, and with a reasonably good reputation, were giving doctorates in what seemed to be an impossibly short time. One such Islamabad-based government institution, which received its degree-granting charter in 2000, proceeded to award a PhD just seven months later.

According to Daudpota, the institution then proceeding to grant another two doctorates before the year was over. A PhD normally takes anywhere from three to seven years depending on the field of study and on whether fieldwork is required for it or not. For someone to receive a PhD in less than a year is unheard of in the rest of the world and is something that the Higher Education Commission would do well to investigate.

Daudpota also wrote about a private university which had been given a degree-granting charter by the government of Sindh and which was recognized by the HEC. However, upon investigation it was found that the foreign affiliation on which rested this institution’s claim to fame was with a university which was more of a one-room mail order operation than anything else.

However, after writing his most recent article, in which he alleged (not by name though) that a sitting vice-chancellor of a public university had acquired a doctorate through such methods and in which he pleaded with the HEC to take some action in this regard, Daudpota was told that his contract at COMSTECH would not be renewed when it ends at the end of this year.

Clearly, this shows that there are very powerful vested interests and lobbies involved in the fake degree racket. Instead of firing Mr Daudpota (the head of the HEC also happens to be the head of the place where Daudpota works), the HEC should have instead investigated the allegations he had made.

This would have been the right thing to do, especially given the propensity among some private sector universities in Pakistan to claim foreign affiliations where none exist or to offer accredited degrees where the accrediting authority is not credible or recognized. After all, the issue relates to students and their parents paying high sums in fees for a degree that is only worth the paper it is printed on.

Fake degrees make their presence felt in Pakistan

Hello,

Look what I found on the credibility of govt. of Pakistan. After reading the following I would be extra cautious about academic credentials of people in govt. of Pakistan.

The article cab be found on http://www.chowk.com/articles/8402

Fake Degrees for the Big Boys in Pakistan

Q Isa Daudpota November 28, 2004

Tags: corruption , education

In the past if you had the money you could buy anything, even happiness. That’s if happiness came through acquiring a university degree. Not much has changed over the years, except that it got easier to buy a degree.

Fake degrees have been sold in Pakistan for a long time. Now, though, the scope of it has enlarged considerably with many shady outfits offering degrees in return for little or no work. A degree of choice is yours for a fraction of what it would cost to attend university and do the hard work. Old methods, of course, continue with enhanced brazenness, as the recent case of degrees’ fraud at Sialkot illustrates. It was there that blank degree certificates from the Allama Iqbal Open University and other public and private degree-awarding institutions were recovered. A gang of three acquired these certificates in connivance with the universities’ officials. This serious offence, has elicited no comment from the national education authorities, and the press has failed to follow-up on this story. Have the lax officials under whose noses this happened been punished, and have systems been installed to avoid a repeat?

Global competition and the increasing pressure on jobs nationally has triggered many shady businesses to innovate beyond the old fashioned way of stealing degree blanks. Efficient delivery of any (fake) degree certificate from accredited universities is now possible from a variety of sources advertised in prestigious journals such as the Economist and in Pakistani newspapers. The money needed compared with proper university charge is negligible and you can have a degree certificate of choice within days, thanks to the internet. Academic work, if required of the aspirant, is minimal.

Cheap degrees from the North

There are safety engineers at nuclear plants and biological weapons expert, at NATO headquarters and at the Pentagon who have phony degrees, according to a recent CBS News report. According to Alan Contreras who cracks down diploma mills for Oregon state, “you don’t want somebody with a fake degree working in Homeland Security … or teaching your kids or designing bridges.” CBS reports that they found employees with diploma mill degrees in sensitive departments such as the new Transport Security Administration, the Defence Intelligence Agency and the Department of Treasury and Education. Kennington University, which was forced out of business in California and Hawaii was the alma mater of Florida State Rep. Jennifer Carroll, who just stepped down from the National Commission on Presidential Scholars.

When some of these people were questioned they said they worked hard and thought their degrees were legitimate. Being cornered, they are clearly trying to hoodwink others. The US Council for Higher Education Accreditation, http://www.chea.org , lists all the US accredited institutions, and there is little chance that such otherwise well-informed people would fail to carry out this elementary check.

The law has caught up with several and will increasing bite hard. In the following cases, credit goes to the prestigious US weekly the Chronicle of Higher Education (www.chronicle.org) for exposing fake degree holders, which led to their expulsion. Tulane University fired a part-time instructor, as was, ironically, Michael Davis, a member of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Davis had a doctorate from Saint Regis University, which claims recognition from the government of war-torn Liberia, and requires virtually no academic work. He was booted out of the board.

Action against the bogus degree outfits has also begun in the UK. In early 2003 a joint operation of the US and UK authorities closed down 14 made-up institutions and which were used by hundreds of unqualified people, mainly in North America, to gain professional jobs.

The UK government is already questioning the American University in London (AUL) about the use of the word “university” in its title. This unaccredited “university”, was founded by a Pakistani nuclear chemist, Dr Khurshid Khan (deceased). A Guardian report of Sept 9, 2003, mentions a visit to AUL to talk to Dr Hussein Alzubaidi, an Iraqi, and current chancellor and CEO of the “university”. His office is above a betting shop!

They have 500 students paying Pounds 4,975 a year to do a range of degree up to PhD, which are offered in nearly 30 subjects ranging from accounting to urban planning. Its degrees are not accepted in UK, or anywhere else, as it is an unaccredited university offering sub-standard courses.

I checked Alzubaidi on the web and there seems to have been nothing published by him. This is a characteristic he shares with, Peter James Sage, the chancellor of the UK affiliate of Preston University – the newly enlarged Halifax University, which like Preston is unaccredited. To avoid scrutiny, neither AUL, Preston nor Halifax show a faculty list. This is contrary to standard practice for all accredited universities. (Preston has 15 campuses in Pakistan, three of them being chartered, i.e. accredited by Pakistan, while the parent university remains unaccredited in the US, where it is headquartered. Preston, like AUL, has a Pakistani founder.)

Fake degrees here too

It was in 2003 that I interviewed two persons (one with a bachelor’s and the other with a doctorate) for a faculty position at a new university in Lahore. The unusual names of the universities prompted me to check them on the Internet and my suspicions were vindicated. The person with the doctorate claimed that he had flown over to London from Canada to do some required practical computer work for six weeks at the American University in London (AUL at www.aul.edu). An internet search quickly led me to look at its connections in Pakistan. Looking deeper led to many strange connections…

The website http://www.aul.edu/pakistan.htm lists AUL affiliated institutions in Pakistan, all of which looked suspicious. These were brought to the attention of the Higher Education Commission with a request that they investigate the AUL link. The website shows five others in Punjab and Sindh] If the Punjab and Sindh governments wish to restore their educational authority, they should, in tow with HEC, check out the AUL affiliates and similar dubious institutes.

The Islamabad-based Pakistan Futuristic Foundation and Institute’s (PFFI) founder obtained a degree from AUL. He has, in turn, supervised the AUL PhD thesis of the Rector of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), also in the capital. Confirmation of this came from the Dean of the Faculty of Advanced Integrated Studies (FAIS) at NUML. She is in-charge of all PhD research at the university.

The FAIS is the brainchild of the founder of PFFI. It probably took shape around the time that PFFI severed its link with AUL, and moved its AUL-registered PhD students to NUML, then known as NIML (“I” stood for Institute).

Three NUML PhD theses are available in the HEC’s library, but not in NUML’s. The Dean of FAIS told me that NUML would only make them available in their own library after the convocation is held. The awardees have of course already started being referred to as Doctors. NUML has not had any convocation since Nov 2000 (when it awarded the first PhD), which ought to an annual event for any good, functioning university.

It struck me that NUML has awarded PhDs in record time. Prior to 29 May 2000, NUML was an institute (named NIML) affiliated with the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU). PhDs were awarded to two English department professors (one of them the department’s head) in Nov 2000 and May 2001. That’s a PhD in 6 months after getting chartered!

More seriously, the head of the University Grants Commission from 1997 to 2001 managed to get a PhD in Education in June 2001 from NUML. His thesis had been submitted to NUML “through” the PFFI. On relinquishing charge at the UGC he moved to the vice-chancellorship of QAU. It was during his term of service at the UGC that NIML’s charter was considered, and that’s exactly when he was registered as a student there. The UGC (that later became HEC) is an institution which funds universities and gives recommendations for the award of a charter to a university.

If the work on the three theses started prior to NIML getting a charter, their outline of research work required approval by the Board of Advanced Studies and Research of QAU, of which NIML was an affiliated institute prior to May 2000. That no reference to any NIML theses exists at QAU was confirmed by a notable academic with access to such records there. According to the same person, NIML may not have authorization from QAU to offer any degree above Master’s.

NUML has now many thousands of students, with several hundreds registered in the MPhil and PhD programs in many subjects, according to one of its faculty members. Here’s an institute that lies in the shadow of the HEC, the body empowered to maintain standards in our universities. The way out of the current mess is clear, but it will require great resolve and courage. Let’s hope that exists.

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