ISLAMABAD:30 May: A committee of experts formed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has found one of the foreign faculty members and former director general of National University of Science and Technology (Nust) centre for virology and immunology guilty of plagiarism and academic fraud, it has been learnt.
According to documents available with Dawn, Professor Ishtiaq Qadri, along with two other Nust researchers – Kaneez Fatima and Rehan Zafar Paracha – conducted a study on blood cancer in December 2011, which was published in the Molecular Biology Report.
However, the HEC management was informed by Professor Dr Ishrat Waheed that he had supervised Kaneez Fatima for her MPhil thesis at the Punjab University in 2005. But in 2006, she registered herself with Prof Qadri for her PhD degree. Dr Waheed said later Dr Qadri and Ms Fatima along with another student, Rehan Zafar Paracha, copied and published Ms Fatima’s MPhil thesis without giving him any credit. Dr Ishtiaq Qadri and Kaneez Fatima later got married.
Dr Waheed sent emails all over the world criticising the education system of Pakistan. Later, the HEC decided to hold an inquiry into the allegation through independent experts – Zia Batool, director general (QA & statistics), HEC; Prof Dr Saqlan Naqvi, dean, Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi; Prof Tariq, chairman department of biology Lums, and Munir Ahmed, deputy director (QA) HEC.
The investigation showed that the research paper contained significant amount of fake and forged data in addition to the plagiarised material. Nust later requested the publishers of the journal to retract the disputed publication.
The documents further showed that Prof Qadri had already been fired and fined over Rs2 million by the Nust administration on separate charges of academic and financial corruption, mismanagement and nepotism since September 2011. However, the HEC continued to pay Dr Qadri Rs400,000 per month salary and extended his contract for another year by approving his appointment at the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU)’s faculty of biological sciences as head of its biotechnology research park.
But the QAU management terminated the services of Prof Qadri in February 2012 when they came to know that he was involved in corruption and plagiarism.
The committee, while announcing its findings on April 30, 2012, maintained that prima facie Dr Qadri had committed plagiarism because he seemed to have played no role in the MPhil studies of Ms Fatima, and, therefore, he was not supposed to be the corresponding author. Secondly, Ms Fatima should have taken the consent of her thesis supervisor for inclusion of names of other authors. Thirdly, Dr Waheed should have approached the departments concerned at the HEC to get her concerns addressed instead of sending emails abroad which tarnished the image of the scientific community.
However, a number of foreign faculty members claimed that an influential group within the HEC and in the universities never tolerated them.
Ms Fatima while talking to Dawn said it was correct that she had started research paper under the supervision of Dr Waheed but he left her paper incomplete. “So how the question of plagiarism arises? I did lots of work on the thesis after which it was published,” she added.
he said her husband Dr Qadri had not done any corruption. There is record of all the expenses but the Nust management alleged that funds were spent without getting permission from the rector. “If approval was required, why the management released the funds to him in the first place?” She alleged that the Nust management had detained them in a house of the university colony for five days and forced them to sign some cheques.”Director Budget and Accounts Nust, Nasir Amin Khan, however, refuted her allegation. He said some amount had been recovered from Dr Qadri and the remaining would be recovered in installments.
Pro-Rector (Research Innovation and Commercialisation) Engr M. Mushtaq said Dr Qadri was appointed through the HEC and after the incident HEC got involved in it. He said if Dr Qadri had any complaint, there were forums for him to approach. “Dr Qadri had confessed that all the allegations against him were true,” he said.
Vice Chancellor QAU Dr Masoom Yasinzai said Prof Qadri worked most of the time at Nust and came to the QAU for just three months. When the HEC informed us that Prof Qadri was involved in some cases, he himself left the university. “I cannot understand why the thesis of a woman was given to her husband,” he said.
Educationist Pervez Hoodbhoy said whenever someone returns to the country he faces difficulties but with the passages of time all the issues get resolved. The same is the case with the foreign faculty members. “So many have come and so many have gone back. A study should be conducted on this issue because some foreign faculty members are not doing anything.”
When contacted, Prof Qadri said: “I am a gifted scientist with 70 international publications and 220 impact factor and have the potential to contribute for the benefit of the nation. After May 2007, I also established the state-of-the-art Nust Centre of Virology and Immunology, secured Rs200 million grant from national and international sources, developed curriculum for PhD and MS programmes for over 50 new subjects and established 18 virology research laboratories from my R&D grants with most advanced equipment.”
He said he also established a diagnostics lab for commercial work generating Rs10 million/year, organised first ever hepatitis-C virus meeting in Pakistan, launched first journal of natural sciences in the country and one of my students won the most prestigious research award on a novel interferon lambda from the prime minister of Pakistan. “Despite all these, some elements are trying to defame me nationally and internationally.”
Adviser to HEC Dr Riaz Qureshi said he did not know whether all the allegations against Prof Qadri had been proved. If they are proved, he will not be allowed to work with the HEC as a foreign faculty member, he added.Daily Times.