Monday, September 5, 2011

Misuse of Pakistan’s PhD Grants in US and Canada: Billions wasted through corruption

Pakistan’s government seems to be unaware of how its taxpayer’s money is being abused in foreign land. Grants worth millions intended for PhD studies in the US and other countries are being spent toward other purposes, violating altogether the rules but, not surprisingly, invoking little action by the authorities. Here are a few cases we found after searching the web for Pakistani researchers abroad.

Searching the web for Pakistan’s research projects in natural disasters, we found this person named Shah Faisal Khan, a research student studying geography and natural disasters at the University of Montana. Coming from the National Center of Excellence in Geology (NCEG) at the University of Peshawar to the US, he is being reported (http://www.montanakaimin.com/arts-culture/researcher-spurs-solidarity-with-pakistan-refugees-1.1748442 ) as spurring solidarity with Pakistan’s flood victims while he came to work on his Master degree at Montana in 2007.

But the profile of Mr. Khan on his home institution’s page http://nceg.upesh.edu.pk/shahfaisalkhan.html shows that he is doing his PhD and in fact already has two Master degrees. Impressed with his academics, you find that this guy is actually on a government-funded grant for completing his PhD. The government of his country is sponsoring his “PhD” studies, but he seems to be daringly misusing the funds. The primary sponsor of the doctorate program appears to be his country’s Higher Education Commission that offers scholarships for earning PhD in the US and other countries. What’s more is that the terms of his scholarship (http://www.hec.gov.pk/InsideHEC/Divisions/HRD/Documents/Terms%20and%20Conditions%20with%20Deed%20of%20Agreement.pdf) require him to be returning to his country after completing his PhD in 4 years, and Hannah Ryan in the aforementioned post about Mr. Khan tell us that he hasn’t even started yet.

Browsing a few profiles on NCEG’s pages, you come to learn about more such cases. Mrs. Sofia N. Khawaja (http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/search/personnel/getprofile.aspx?fname=Sofia&lname=Khawaja) is a prominent example. She is from the same institute and came to Florida State University (FSU) in 2006 on a PhD grant like Mr. Khan. Having spent over 5 years here now, she hasn’t earned a PhD and is overstaying her assigned term as specified per HEC rules (which allow 4 years maximum). While she is listed as faculty on the FSU page, as linked above, and on the faculty page of the NCEG (http://nceg.upesh.edu.pk/faculty.html), there is no link to a profile for her at NCEG, just her name.

Then this one really is a classic example with online proof of a scam. He is named Shah Faisal, similar name as the first case but a different person and on the same type of grant as the other two. His profile on the NCEG page http://nceg.upesh.edu.pk/shahfaisalktk.html says, as in the first case, that he is doing his PhD abroad, at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario Canada. But is he? Well, let’s look at his thesis abstract here https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/handle/1974/5964. It’s a Master thesis submitted in 2010, some 3 or 4 years after he got the HEC scholarship for PhD and moved to Canada. more