The fake degrees, it seems, are germinating in our Parliament on a daily basis. The issue is given a Machiavellian twist by the politicians who are now telling their nave voters that an 'usurper had introduced this malafide clause of graduation just to keep the more 'seasoned politician out of the assemblies. Some of them even justify forgery of the affected MNAs and MPAs on one pretext or the other. This is strange, to say the least. The question is not of qualification but of character. This is about eligibility for the public office, or lack of it, of persons who acquired fake degrees by illegal means, through deceitful forging of documents. Does it behove a lawmaker to be a cheat, a forger, a fraudster, a swindler or an imposter? It strikes at the very root of the personal conduct and character expected of a lawmaker. There is an old saying, If wealth is lost, nothing is lost. If health is lost, something is lost. But if character is lost, everything is lost. Should such characterless forgers be trusted with the sacred task of framing laws of the nation? Incidentally, issuing of party tickets to such charlatans speaks volumes about the party leaderships too. -COL. RIAZ JAFRI (RETD), Rawalpindi, June 15.