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pakistan
Wednesday Feb 07 2018
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Won't spare anyone found involved in Axact degree case: CJP

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed on Wednesday that anyone found associated with the Axact fake degree scandal will not be spared and summoned all the accused on February 9. 

Axact claims to be the "world's largest IT company" and operates hundreds of fake online universities run by agents from a Karachi-based call centre.

Hearing the suo motu case, the chief justice asked Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Memon, who had appeared in court, what the case is about as it is being highlighted again. 

"The country's name is being brought into disrepute," the chief justice observed, adding that no one will be spared and everyone's names will be placed on the Exit Control List.

The FIA chief informed the bench that Axact's headquarter is located in Karachi, adding that the scandal first surfaced in May 2015 after the publication of an article in a foreign publication. He added that employees on one floor of the organisation's office often did not know what was happening on other floors. 

Memon stated that websites of 330 global universities were created from Karachi, adding that the numbers on the sites would be foreign but were received in Karachi. 

Responding to the chief justice's query about the status of cases against Axact, the FIA chief informed that the agency lodged four cases in total.

"In two cases, the suspects were exonerated, the decisions of which were challenged in the high courts," Memon said, adding that one case is under way in Karachi while the one in Peshawar is yet to start. 

During the hearing, Justice Nisar also inquired if anchorperson Aamir Liaquat has a fake degree from Axact. The chief justice remarked that he will not spare the anchor if he obtained a fake degree, to which the FIA official replied that Liaquat's name is included in the list of people who obtained a fake degree in 2007.

The FIA official added that he can not say for certain if the anchor did obtain the degree or not, however, his name is included.

The chief justice the looked towards Liaquat, who was present in court and admonished him for the way he was sitting.

Justice Nisar told the anchor that there is certain decorum in the court and the court is not his TV studio. In reply, Liaquat, after being told to stand, apologised to the chief justice. 

Responding to the statement, the chief justice summoned the registrars of Islamabad and Sindh high courts at the next hearing. 

'Our heads hang in shame'

The chief justice had taken suo motu notice of the scandal on January 19.

The chief justice had remarked, “our heads hang in shame due to the scandal,” adding that those bringing a bad name to Pakistan will not be allowed to go scot-free. 

Axact claims to be the "world's largest IT company" and operates hundreds of fake online universities run by agents from a Karachi-based call centre. In 2015, it sold more than 215,000 fake qualifications globally through approximately 350 fictitious high schools and universities, making $51m (£37.5m) that year alone.

Axact's chief executive was arrested and an investigation launched by the Pakistani authorities after a New York Times expose in 2015. A senior manager of the company, Umair Hamid, was sentenced to 21 months in a US prison in August 2017 for his part in Axact's fraud. 

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