8 parliamentarians appeared in person or through counsel before the investigation committee of the Election Commission on Monday and two abstained as all of the cases were adjourned till next date.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had summoned nine parliamentarians in fake degree issue, in what the committee head said was meant to give the parliamentarians a chance to defend themselves and provide proofs if they have any, in their defence.
Among those who were summoned included Syed Muahmmad Salman Mohsin Gilani of NA-165, Akhunzada Chattan from NA-44, Mir Humayun Aziz Kurd of NA-267, Gulistan Khan of PF-69, Senator Israrullah Zahri from Balochistan, Shama Perveen Magsi, Independent MPA from Balochistan, Sardar Ali from PF-34, Maulvi Obaidullah of PF-61 and Syed Aqil Shah of PF-4.
To the astonishment of the committee as well as the other attendants, Senator Muhabbat Khan Marri appeared in person before the committee just coming to know about his involvement in the fake degree issue through media.
“Please inform me what charges have been levelled against me. Being a tribal leader, it is more than insult for me. All seems to have been done by my political rivals,” the Senator contended before the committee.
The committee adjourned all the cases till next date as almost all of the parliamentarians, who either appeared in person or through their counsel, sought adjournment taking different pleas, with majority of them excusing that they had not received formal notice as well as necessary documents.
The committee put off the hearing and directed the officials concerned to issue notices and provide all necessary documents to the parliamentarians.
To a question, the committee head Muhammad Afzal Khan told media that Federal Minister for Postal Services Sanaullah Zehri had not complied with the notices issued by the committee for four times and that no further notices would be issued to him. However, the body issued second notice to Sardar Ali.
“If any one hesitates to appear before the committee, it shows as he or she has nothing to say in defence. We have to complete the process within a couple of months so the apex court will be appraised accordingly,” he said.
Barrister Gauhar Ali Khan, who appeared on behalf of Akhunzada Chattan said, the committee has issued letters, not the show cause notices to the members that has no legal value.
He contended that his client does not own the degree that has been declared fake by the Higher Education Commission, in what the committee said only those credentials were verified which had been submitted by the member at the time of submission of nomination papers.
Maulvi Ubaidullah also appeared in person before the committee. He said that he had not yet received a notice in writing and sought adjournment.
Meanwhile, Director General Verification Raheem Bux Channa told newsmen that so far the HEC has declared 374 credentials of parliamentarians as genuine, 50 as fake or invalid.
He said the Election Commission has not so far submitted 12 degrees with the HEC. However, he said the EC was proceeding in this regard.