Interior Minister asks FIA to Probe Axact Scandal
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has ordered Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday to probe into the special report on Axact Scandal published by The New York Times immediately, media reported.
Axact, that has pledged to build a media empire faced tough criticism on Monday after The New York Times said it was earning tens of millions of dollars by selling fake degr ees around the world.
The interior minister directed FIA to investigate the issue of fake degrees. Nisar took notice of the NYT which clamed that Axact ran a fake education empire that involved paid actors promoting fictitious universities and even fake State Department authentication certifications bearing the signature of John Kerry, the article said.
The report, which quoted former employees and analysed more than 370 websites of fake universities, accreditation bodies and other purported institutions, sparked a wave of criticism on social media even as the company denied wrongdoing.
On Tuesday, the issue was also taken up in the Senate where Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said that the management of company has the right to give explanation.
“It is shameful to hear such kind of news. Unfortunately, it is linked to Pakistanis ,” the senator said.
He said it can damage the reputation of Pakistanis internationally, hence the matter needs to be investigated. Ahsan termed the issue as ‘sensitive’.
The session in the Senate was chaired by Chairman Raza Rabbani and a committee was constituted to probe into the issue and submit a report in a month.
Soon after the report was published, a message on Axact’s website declared the story “baseless, substandard, maligning, defamatory, and based on false accusations” and added it would sue The New York Times.
The company has said it will launch a news channel named Bol this year, which has already lured many of Pakistan’s top TV anchors and journalists with reportedly the highest salaries in the market.
According to the report, Axact created a series of fake websites involving “professors” and students who were in fact paid actors.
The “university” websites mainly route their traffic through servers run by companies registered in Cyprus and Latvia, and employees would plant fictitious reports about Axact universities on CNN iReport, a website for citizen journalism.
The article cited clients from the US, Britain and the United Arab Emirates who had paid sums ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for their degrees — with some believing the universities were real and they would soon receive coursework.
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