ISLAMABAD-Higher Education Commission has officially conveyed to ministry of National Health Services that it cannot recognise Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan head’s PhD degree as it was obtained from a non-chartered university, The Nation learned on Tuesday.

CEO DRAP Sheikh Akhtar Hussain had obtained his PhD degree from ‘The Open International University, Colombo, Sri Lanka’ which was not enlisted as the HEC-chartered universities.

‘The Open International University, Colombo, Sri Lanka’ is declared fake/illegal by HEC in Pakistan, while the university is also not registered in the home country, Sri Lanka.

Ministry of NHS had officially requested the HEC to verify the academic credentials of CEO DRAP Sheikh Akhtar Hussain after allegation of having fake PhD degree was levelled on him.

The HEC after 20 days of receiving official request from ministry of NHS maintained its previous stance that the degree was obtained from a university declared illegal by the HEC.

The HEC letter written to the ministry of NHS said, ‘with reference to your letter sent on 7th February, 2019 addressed to the Chairman HEC for verification of degree/certificates of Dr Sheikh Akhtar Hussain, CEO DRAP. It is stated that as per information contained in international directories like Handbook of Universities and International Handbook of Universities published by the UNESCO as well as information placed on official website of UNESCO, ‘The Open International University, Colombo’ is not listed amongst the chartered universities/institutions of Sri Lanka’.

The letter added, ‘therefore, as per policy, degrees awarded by non-chartered universities/institutions cannot be recognised by Higher Education Commission/Government of Pakistan’. Kindly note that the status of degrees can only be determined on individual merit upon submission of detailed documents on HEC online application, the letter further stated.

Officials at the HEC said that the degree obtained from any institution declared fake/illegal by the HEC is considered fake.

“If the university is declared fake by HEC, its degree cannot be recognized,” said the official.

The HEC has declared all operations of ‘The Open International University, Colombo, Sri Lanka’ as fake in Pakistan, while the said university is also not listed amongst chartered universities in Sri Lanka, said the official.

The official said that ministry of NHS had sent attested photocopies of degrees/certificates comprising 20 pages for verification. It has not directly commented on status of the degree, but confirmed that the university from which the degree was obtained is illegal.

The world higher education database of higher education institutions, systems and credentials also does not contain the record of ‘The Open International University’, Sri Lanka.

Officials at ministry of NHS said that CEO DRAP had to submit his degree to the government after he was appointed the head of DRAP in December last year.

Officials also added that the government was awarding special allowance to the officials carrying PhD degrees in their portfolio after 2004. Net salary of the CEO DRAP was above Rs150,000 per month. “CEO DRAP took around Rs180,000 as PhD allowance from the government,” sources said.

Earlier, Sheikh Akhtar Hussain was declared deceased in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) inquiry against him. NAB Karachi had framed corruption charges against an official ranked as assistant controller of federal drugs Sheikh Akthar. The NAB conducted inquires in 2001 and 2004 against the official and in both reports, the official was declared deceased.

The Nation contacted CEO DRAP Sheikh Akhtar Hussain and minister for NHS for version, but they did not respond till filing of the story.

Meanwhile, spokesperson NHS Sajid Hussain Shah said that the degree was obtained before inception of the HEC in Pakistan. However, he restrained himself about telling the future decision about CEO DRAP by the ministry.

Meanwhile, DRAP is also facing administrative problems as several senior officials after dubious degree scandal surfaced against its head refuse obeying his orders. Some of the officials have been suspended and relieved from their duties also.