More than 1,100 Pakistanis paid for Axact degrees

Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: Dr Amir Liaquat, his wife and more than 1,100 other Pakistanis had paid Axact-run universities for buying degrees, a multi-million dollar scam that has returned to headlines after the BBC’s investigation found that more than 3,000 British citizens had also purchased fake degrees.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice late Friday after the latest revelation in the UK media, demanding the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit reply on the status of investigation within 10 days.

The FIA has not received any order from the court as yet. A source privy to progress said that an FIA official went to the court on Saturday to seek the copy of the order which wasn’t available.

Although, the Axact scandal has made global headlines with victims of fraud emerging from different parts of the world, the investigation in Pakistan has not only been compromised, several of its online universities are still operational.

While international media have traced victims of Axact scandal in USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Middle East and other places, Pakistani clients have not received as much attention. The most prominent among them is controversial anchor Dr Amir Liaquat. He was a student of Ashwood University, according to the record retrieved by FIA. Amir, who incidentally had also been anchor of Axact-run Bol TV, applied for the bachelor and master degrees in history against student identity AU-2006-12-92888.

The date of fee payment registered in the record is June 18, 2006. His correspondence address, mobile phone and email address have also been noted.

While Amir had ordered for degrees in history, his wife was interested in the bachelor degree of medicine & surgery and master’s in business administration. The payment date mentioned for the bachelor degree is March 17, 2006 and for the master’s degree March 28, 2006. Her student identity for the medicine degree was BU-2006-3-394666 and for the business degree was BU-2006-3-394667.

Amir was summoned by the FIA at the beginning of the investigation. He admitted having applied for the degrees that, he said, he didn’t receive, according to official sources. However, he had outrightly denied that he applied for it while responding to a TV newscaster when taken online for his version in this regard.

In 2005, Amir was in the headlines after Karachi-based daily Ummat discovered his alleged fake BA, MA and PhD degrees which he had submitted for the election of National Assembly in 2002. The degrees were purchased on internet and were issued by Trinity College with an address in Spain. He had then explained that the Spanish University had issued him honorary degrees without any fee, but when asked by the South Asia Tribune, the University said they do not issue any honorary degree to anyone without charge.

There are more than 1,100 Pakistanis who bought degrees from Axact-run universities; over 800 of them were in other countries by the time. The remaining gave correspondence address of Pakistan like Dr Amir Liaquat and others. One Hassan Salim Haqqani of Askari-7, Adiala Road, Rawalpindi had obtained master’s degree in civil engineering from Axact-run Rochville University. His student identity number was AD-2006-12-134596. The fee payment date has been mentioned as December 21, 2005.

One Amir Hashmi obtained PhD in Educational Administration from Belford University of Axact. Address of a sensitive institution has been mentioned as his correspondence address. The fee payment date was February 5, 2008 and student identity number BU-2007-2-387420.

One Sardar Ali Khan, a resident of Phase 4, Hayatabad, Peshawar, had applied for High School Diploma in Criminal Justice, Associate Degree in Telecommunication and Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Belford University. The fee was paid on June 14, 2006. His student identity number for all degrees was BU-2006-5-367839.

Bilal Aslam Sufi of Pakistan Psychological Association was PhD student (AU-2006-12-51106) of Ashwood University in 2005. Karachi-based Asim Mobin who is architect by qualification ordered PhD in Electrical Engineering from Ashwood University. His student identity number was AU-2006-12-50034. Muhammad Ali Raza Anjum, a Rawalpindi-based professor, obtained PhD in Telecommunications from Rochville University. His student identity number was AD-2006-12-176433.

Anjum Afroz of Peshawar Cantt got associate degree in criminal justice from Ashwood University in 2006. His student identity number was AU-2006-12-48961. Lahore-based Dr Syed Sarfraz Hussain received PhD in Clinical Psychology from Rochville University in 2005. His student identity number was AD-2006-12-226592. Abdul Samad Musafir of Main Clifton Road, Karachi, obtained PhD in Alternative Medicines from Belford University in 2007. His student identity number was BU-2007-10-387453. Maqsood Hasni of Sher-e-Rabbani Colony, Kasur purchased PhD in English from Ashwood University in 2005. His student identity number was AU-2006-12-97251.

Originally published in The News