Varying Degrees of Reality

by Sana Ali

To an avid spectator of Pakistani politics, manufactured hysteria is a sad reality. To the same spectator, there is nothing surprising about the media’s seeming obsession with the educational histories of elected officials. The accusing, spiteful and politically-motivated mud-slinging is just another instance where cheap points are scored at the expense of the people. The fact is, people vote leaders in to provide a better quality of life and represent their voices and concerns. Yet, somehow our leaders consistently get caught up In self-righteous quicksand. These fake crises overtake our beloved leaders and we are the poorer for it. I say “fake crisis” because there is no shortage of very real and terrifying issues for Pakistanis. Those issues are overshadowed and those voices are muted. That is the real crisis.

Do we vote for or against people based on the schools they attended or what they have made of their education? Of course not. It would be much more scandalous if leaders had won their positions of power through fraud or cheating. But to say someone does not deserve to represent people because s/he didn’t attend a prestigious school is absurd. Having a degree from a well-known educational institution implies one comes from a family or background that was able to accommodate the financial burdens. Most Pakistanis are poor; the notion of having so much money to spare -enough to fund a comfortable lifestyle and education – is a dream. The countless stories of young children forced to work to help their parents are a testament to the generational poverty that exists in our country. Pakistan’s middle class would face difficulties, as well. ¬†Are these people barred from running for office? Are these people not fit to participate in society? If voters feel the MPs have cheated, they will vote them out. Let the awam respond to the fake degrees and make a statement through the ballot box. Let there be a referendum, a statement by the people on the issue of fake degrees. That is, after all, how a democracy should work.

This “crisis” is feudalism in another suit. For years, the elite aristocracy ruled the land, making rules and regulations in it’s favor and depriving the poor of social mobility. The fake degree crisis is another attempt to maintain that status quo. That our leaders lied about their degrees is of course wrong, but the idea that one NEEDS a degree to serve Pakistan is the bigger injustice.

A quick Google search for “Pakistan fake degrees” shows a myriad of international newspapers talking about the Pakistan MP degree scandal. At a time when Pakistan is struggling to improve her economy, fighting increasingly inhumane terrorists and strengthen democratic institutions, these headlines harm our image.

We need support to tackle our issues. Instead of reporting tirelessly on an inconsequential issue, these writers could have been changing people’s perceptions about Pakistan. We are a proud and hard-working people. In the midst of enacting much-needed social reforms, building infrastructure and dealing with a dangerous water crisis, we must also contend with political stunts and international scrutiny.

It is inexcusable to deceive your colleagues and your constituents about your educational background. But it is absolutely wrong to assert one should come from a wealthy enough background to have such an impressive degree. A good degree does not guarantee good judgement. Any Pakistani fairly voted into offices qualified for that office.

Now. Let’s talk about a real issue.

One thought on “Varying Degrees of Reality

  1. George Washington, the first President of the United States, was only formally educated till the age of 16. Harry Truman, the 33rd U.S. President of the United States, also did not finish college education, and yet he went on to become the President of the United States. Bill Gates did not gradute from college( till 2007), and Jane Austen never even went to college.

    Washington and Truman were able to serve as Presidents because the Constitution did not require a college degree in order to become President. Essentially speakin, they did not have to get “fake” degrees because there was no Constitutional law that said you needed to have a degree to be in office.

    Obviously, in Pakistan our politicians do not have the same luxury. However, before the possession of a “fake degree” is put into question in the political sphere, it should be simply looked at from a legal( and moral) perspective. Possessing a fake degree or a fake diploma is a criminal act and is punishable by law, no matter which country a person resides in. Under no circumstance should the notion of possessing a fake diploma be entertained, as it can be used to further your career ends( no matter what they might be).

    The question as to whether possessing a degree in order to serve as a politican is an extremely valid one. On a personal note, I would definitely not have the notion of having a college degree be the hallmark of a person enterting politics( as you rightly mentioned).

    However, if there is a law that restricts you from running for office due to insufficient college education, possessing a fake degree is not the answer. The answer is to go through the legal system and raise the issue with the Supreme Court and create awareness in relation to the faults of the laws that require politicans to participate in office( while having degrees).

    A “fake” degree is a criminal act, under no circumstances is it morally applicable, and the penalty for possessing such a degree and using it to further your means( whether political or business) should be prosecuted by law.

    The answer is to challenge the constitutional law on the “eligibility” of office, not a fake diploma.

    George Washington and Harry Truman would not have gotten a fake degree, they would have questioned the legal system through the right means.

    Bill Gates did not make a fake degree, he became the richest person in the world by setting an example that you dont need a fake degree to run for office. Our politicans should follow that example, rather than cheating their way through the constitution.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *