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Presidency, PM House split on Farah episode

By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The Presidency and the Prime Minister’s House differed on the Farah Hameed Dogar case, like their clash of opinion on some other issues, with the former eager to defend the chief justice’s daughter while the latter trying to stay neutral.

It was because of the differences between the two highest offices on this specific issue that the government could not forge a unified stance, but the Presidency’s strategy prevailed owing to the role reportedly played by two key players – Law Minister Farooq H Naek and Attorney General Sardar Abdul Latif Khosa.

Both are considered President Asif Zardari’s men. Khosa, however, denied to have been assigned with any such role, while Naek could not be approached for comments despite hectic efforts by The News.

What has not yet been revealed is the devious part played by the Law Ministry, which presented distorted facts in the Farah Dogar case before the Islamabad High Court to get a ruling in the student’s favour despite the Education Ministry’s clear stance that a re-assessment was not allowed under the law.

Background interaction with key players in the government reveals the Law Ministry vetted para-wise comments submitted before the IHC on behalf of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE), provided inaccurate information to the court that the answer sheets of 201 candidates including Miss Farah Dogar, were re-assessed.

The reply presented by Agha Tariq Mehmood Khan, presently deputy attorney general, submitted to the court distorted facts, which did not differentiate between the Farah Hameed Dogar case and others.

The IHC was given the impression through this para-wise comment, prepared by the Law Ministry and submitted by the attorney general, that Miss Farah Dogar was one of the 201 students, whose marks were increased after their “answer sheets were reassessed.”

As already stated on Monday by Education Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani that a re-assessment is not permissible under the rules, the FBISE had presented all relevant facts to the Law Ministry and also clearly said the relevant law did not allow a re-evaluation under any circumstances.

But what was produced before the IHC was the presentation of Miss Farah Dogar’s case as one of many routine cases. The fact, however, was that the then chairman had ordered a re-assessment in clear violation of the rules only in the case of Farah. All other cases, where marks of candidates were increased, fell in the category of legally allowed re-checking.

The Law Ministry which vetted para-wise comment wrongly informed the court: “On the severe claim of some students including Miss Farah that their papers were not properly checked, though they had performed the same properly, the chairman in his note – dated 10-09-2008 – directed the controller of examination ‘Pl have the answer books of this candidate re-assessed.”

Here the FBISE comment gave the IHC the impression as if the chairman had ordered a re-assessment in several cases, which is not a fact, as it was done only in the case of Farah Dogar.

Later, the FBISE comment played a further trick on the IHC by adding: “Out of the said students, on rechecking, 201 students’ answer sheets were reassessed and their marks enhanced.” What the FBISE report concealed was the fact that the marks of 200 students were increased through the legally allowed re-checking process whereas the re-assessment was done only in the case of Miss Farah, who secured 20 marks for the same reason.

While the law minister was not available for comment, Attorney General Sardar Abdul Latif Khosa categorically said neither he was assigned any role in connection with Miss Farah Dogar case by the Presidency nor has he been associated with the preparation of the para-wise comment submitted to the IHC by his deputy. He insisted he did not know if the FBISE comments were presented before the IHC in a distorted shape.

The Education Ministry was, however, not inclined to vote in favour of the re-assessment at any cost while Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was against the idea of defending the Miss Farah case – inside or outside the Parliament.

Gilani instead had fired his press secretary as soon as he came to know about his role in facilitating a meeting of this correspondent with the Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar on the issue of Farah’s marks in the FSc exams.

Education Minister Bijrani not only conceded before the Senate as well as NA Committees on Education that there was no provision in the law allowing a re-assessment, but also opposed the government’s defence of this glaring violation of the rules.

But the presidential camp prevailed and even the National Assembly Secretariat was successfully manoeuvred to halt the proceedings of the NA panel, whose Chairman Abid Sher Ali was adamant on discussing the matter at all costs.

After a three-member bench of the Supreme Court had dismissed an earlier order of a single bench staying the proceedings of the NA Committee on Education, Bijarani had admitted the Miss Farah Dogar case was no more sub-judice and he would participate in the committee meeting to discuss the issue. However, a few days later, when the NA Committee was to meet, the minister reverted to the original stance of the presidential camp and refused to discuss the sub-judice issue.
Source: The news