ISLAMABAD: The former chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr Attaur Rehman
In a Geo News programme ‘Naya Pakistan: Talat Hussain Key Sath’, anchor Talat Hussain asked the former chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Attaur Rehman about the difference between a university with a campus and without a campus. Dr Rehman replied that there are four kinds of universities.
He said some universities are accredited offering both online and regular degree courses and some universities are not accredited but they are legal for being in process of accreditation. These universities get accreditation in due course of time.
He said that the case of Axact is about the universities that are called diploma mills, many of which are available on Wikipedia. The fourth kind is about creating a university website presenting some actors.
Dr Rehman said the third and fourth kinds of universities loot people. He said the universities pointed out by the New York Times are neither accredited nor unaccredited but are all fake and illegally robbing people of millions of dollars weekly.
Asked if the people involved in this scam are more dangerous than Osama and what the damage of distribution of fake diplomas is, Dr Rehman replied that a fake doctor or engineer will play with the lives of millions of people. It is an international fraud affecting not a single man but millions of people. He said strict action should be taken on this scam.
He asked: “If you go to a dentist and it later turns out that he is a butcher wearing a white coat, what will you do?” He said many questions were raised on Axact. “If it is really an IT company, how much of its revenue comes through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)?”
He said when an exemption was granted on export of IT products, he was the IT minister. He said the exemption was granted only for software and not other IT activities. He said there was a difference between IT service providers and IT exporters.
He said before seeing the tax matters, it needs to be seen if a company is doing legal or illegal business. The main issue is the fraud being carried out at the world level and the fact that somebody is playing with lives of people. It results in defamation of the country, he said. “If Axact is right, it should sue the NYT seeking billions of dollars for damages.”
He said no case had been filed against the NYT. “Let me assure you that I have seen the list of the universities and none of it is legal. All this is fraud,” he said. He said it raises questions about Bol. “If the TV channel is being run by illegal money, all the people working in that organisation will be part of the whole scam because the two are intimately interconnected”. He said Bol cannot be separated from Axact.
“I know a war is going on between channels but the real issue is if illegal money is being pumped into Bol or not,” he said. He said the case of licence of Bol is pending in court for the last two years and asked why the government had not come into action. Why the stay order has not been vacated, he asked, adding there were many big issues.
Asked if Pakistan was being targeted on account of fake degrees case, he said it was not true. He said killings take place in the US, the UK and other places, so can somebody say why murderers are being arrested in Pakistan only. That is no argument. He said illegal activity was taking place at an enormous level. “As they (Axact) have said that they set $10 million target monthly, one thousand people were working, each chasing $300-400 targets daily. We are talking about a huge scam, which is not a small thing,” he said.
He said frauds were reported everywhere and people were punished but in Pakistan they got away with their crimes, using their influence or bribe.He said the cyber crime law should have come 5-7 years ago. He said he remained the IT minister for two-and-a-half years. He said if you defraud somebody, you could be booked under normal criminal law. He said you know the level of parliamentarians. “I had raised this issue. Two hundred of 1,100 parliamentarians in the previous governments held fake degrees. Unfortunately, fake degree is not a big deal here,” he said.
He said the Axact issue will continue to haunt if the media continued to portray it. “You have seen the cases of the sons of the former chief justice and prime minister just vanished from TV screens.” He said many cases appear only temporarily and then they die. “So it is your responsibility as a journalist and it is the responsibility of the people in the media to make sure that these issues remain alive,” he said.Though Axact has not been legally proven guilty, he said, but “I am pretty sure it is guilty. It is the responsibility of the media to make sure that the guilty is punished.”
This article originally appeared in TheNews