Pakistan's national flag carrier airline Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has sacked 300 of its employees across several different departments over the last six months after they were found to have submitted fake academic degrees.
The fake degrees were discovered as part of a Supreme Court-ordered effort to verify the credentials of about 16,000 employees of PIA. The fired workers include pilots, flight attendants and engineers.
Newspaper The Nation reported in February that according sources familiar with the matter, many of the employees suspected of using fake degrees were appointees of the previous government as a reward.
The scandal first broke in 2012, when a number of employees of the airline were first accused of having submitted fake degrees.
Pakistan's battle against fake academic degrees is not new. In 2008, the government under former military dictator Pervez Musharraf amended election laws to require a university degree mandatory in order to qualify to become member of parliament. This posed a challenge for a large number of politicians who did not meet the requirement, and some obtained fake degrees to work around it.
PIA fires 300 fake degree holders! Fake degrees is an epidemic in Pakistan! How will we cure it?
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) April 5, 2014
After a significant number of the false credentials were exposed by political opponents, the country's Supreme Court ordered the election commission to verify the university degrees of nearly all of their 1,100 federal and provincial parliamentarians, resulting in various lawmakers losing their seats. No actions were taken against those who issued fake degrees to the lawmakers.
Similar allegations have been made against civil servants and doctors across the country. In the wake of the revelations, the Supreme Court ordered government institutions to have the degrees of their staff verified and submit a compliance report.
Commenting on The Nation's website, “Pak Patriot” demanded punishment for PIA employees caught using fake degrees:
Police cases of fraud should be initiated against these fraudsters.
Their political influence should also be exposed.
A list of these PIA staff should be published in the newspapers, SHAME THEM.
This practice will then stop in the country.
Let the people know, which politicians are indulging in corrupt practices.
Public should not vote for these Charlatans, next time around.
Saad Iqbal wrote cynically on Facebook:
lol its just a gimmick… all these fake degree holders have political influence that let them in thew corporation. By virtue of of same links they will b back to service or reinstated later on with all perks and privileges.
Shahzia Khan-Mehboob commented:
Its fantastic,if its not a political move..
When lawmakers were discovered to have submitted fake degrees, Tayaba Iftikhar at youth network The Voice of Youth offered up a sarcastic analysis of the situation:
I can’t believe the hullabaloo regarding it. I mean they obviously had better things to do rather than study, y’all. Correction: Study from chartered universities or NOT study at all. How can the media and the political analysts not realize that? That is the job of the rest of the ‘normal’ Pakistanis to study and have a REAL degree, not a FAKE one since that would be breaking the LAW and you will be in JAIL for that. Remember: The rich and elite of this nation are exempt from this.