The ‘fake degrees mill’ run by Pakistan’s self-styled software company Axact has created ripples not just in Pakistan but around the world. International publications are increasingly giving coverage to this multimillion-dollar scam.
Renowned foreign affairs expert Michael Kugelman has weighed in on the controversy to discuss if it would “taint [Pakistan’s IT] industry that is a major success story”.
“It’s possible Axact’s preexisting reputation as an outlier will help Pakistan’s IT industry escape this affair relatively unscathed,” he wrote in his article in the Wall Street Journal. He quoted Pakistani journalist Farieha Aziz as saying that “no one ever really considered Axact as part of the IT sector. It was always more of a stand-alone entity.”
Kugelman noted Pakistan’s fair share of achievements in the IT sector. He pointed out that Technology Review recognised an IT expert at Lahore University of Management Sciences as ‘one of the world’s top young innovators’, and that several Pakistani software applications had earned international awards.
Kugelman added that Pakistan’s presence in the global IT industry was growing with about 1,500 registered firms and 10,000 IT grads entering the market annually.
Axact is currently being investigated for operating as front for a ‘highly profitable’ fake degree business. The probe was ordered by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan after a New York Times expose by Declan Walsh revealed several online diploma mills were being run by the self-styled ‘world’s leading IT company’.
NYT reported that customers around the world, including a jailed police criminologist in Britain and a former US Olympic team swim coach, had purchased degrees from one of the numerous Axact-owned online universities.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2015.