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Pakistan: Fraudulent documents other than identity documents, including methods of obtaining fraudulent documents and assessing the credibility of fraudulent documents; First Information Reports (FIRs), newspaper articles, academic qualifications, and land ownership titles

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 13 December 2011
Citation / Document Symbol PAK103917.E
Related Document Pakistan : information sur les documents frauduleux autres que les pièces d'identité, y compris les méthodes d'obtention et l'évaluation de leur crédibilité; les premiers rapports d'information, les articles de presse, les titres de compétences et les titres de propriété
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Pakistan: Fraudulent documents other than identity documents, including methods of obtaining fraudulent documents and assessing the credibility of fraudulent documents; First Information Reports (FIRs), newspaper articles, academic qualifications, and land ownership titles, 13 December 2011, PAK103917.E, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official at the High Commission of Canada to Pakistan stated that "a large portion of the documents" received by the High Commission is fraudulent (Canada 29 Nov. 2011). A lawyer and Lahore High Court advocate also said, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, that "fraudulent documents are quite prevalent," particularly "manually generated documents" (30 Nov. 2011).

Methods of Obtaining Fraudulent Documents

The lawyer stated that, along with bribes, political influence and family or friends are used to obtain fraudulent documents (30 Nov. 2011). In addition, the official at the Canadian High Commission said that fraudulent documents are "easily" obtained on the Internet and in markets and bazaars (Canada 29 Nov. 2011).

Assessing the Credibility of Fraudulent Documents

According to the Canadian High Commission official, the High Commission can assess the credibility of fraudulent documents using "in-house knowledge and experience, by conducting interviews and site visits as well as [by] obtaining confirmation of authenticity through respective issuing authorities" (Canada 29 Nov. 2011).

Types of Fraudulent Documents

According to the High Commission official, the following documents are routinely found to be fraudulent: education documents; birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates; employee reference letters; financial documents; official family composition forms; police certificates; entry and exit stamps in passports; and Canadian and other visas (Canada 29 Nov. 2011). The lawyer corroborated the statement that fraudulent documents may include birth certificates and education documents, and added that they also include land-owning title documents, court documents, bank statements, hospital certificates, medical prescriptions, newspaper articles, and police documents, including First Information Reports (FIRs) (30 Nov. 2011).

First Information Reports

In addition to the lawyer, other sources indicate that FIRs may be fraudulent (ibid.; Australia 15 May 2009). According to the US Department of State, FIRs, which provide police with the legal basis for detaining suspects, are sometimes filed by authorities without "supporting evidence [in order] to harass or intimidate" detainees (8 Apr. 2011, 19). The lawyer indicated that a complainant may have registered a fraudulent FIR with the police but that other FIRs, though not in police records, may have been obtained by some other means (Lawyer 30 Nov. 2011). The lawyer added that FIRs are "never registered entirely according to the true facts of the case" (ibid.). He said that FIRs do not provide an accurate record of cases due to "extremely poor" police training, "poor forensic and investigatory techniques and knowledge of the law," and "low" ethical standards (ibid.). According to the lawyer, the failure to accurately record the facts of a case also occurs in "genuine cases" (ibid.).

The Daily Times reports that a sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs proposed amending the Pakistan Penal Code to deter people from submitting fake FIRs by making both complainants and investigating officers "accountable" (20 Aug. 2011). The amendment would reportedly increase "imprisonment from six months to five years and a fine from Rs 3,000 to Rs 200,000 [200,000 Pakistani rupees = 2302.09 Canadian dollars (XE 9 Dec. 2011)] on registering fake FIRs" (ibid.). According to The Daily Times, the proposed amendments will be discussed with stakeholders before "reaching any final decision" (ibid.).

Newspaper Articles

Sources indicate that some newspaper articles may be fraudulent (Australia 15 May 2009; Lawyer 30 Nov. 2011). A 14 January 2009 Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) report, cited in a research paper produced by Australia's Refugee Review Tribunal, states that "false reporting" exists in genuine and "'bogus'" newspapers and print and electronic media (Australia 15 May 2009). The DFAT report also indicates that "some of Pakistan's leading daily newspapers publish false or poorly sourced articles relatively frequently" (ibid.). The report further describes as an "understatement," the estimate, made by a Pakistani publishing group, that one to five percent of the reports made by Pakistan's 100,000 newspapers are false (ibid.). The DFAT report says that regulations and "quality control mechanisms" are "ineffective" and that there are no consequences for printing false stories (ibid.). In addition, a 27 February 2008 DFAT report mentions that Pakistani journalists stated that although it was possible to pay to have false stories printed in newspapers, it was occurring "less frequently than it did in the past" (ibid.). Information corroborating that contained in the DFAT reports could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The lawyer stated that English-language newspapers are much less likely to print fraudulent stories, but that it is not impossible (30 Nov. 2011). Both the lawyer (30 Nov. 2011) and DFAT (15 May 2009) noted that fraudulent newspaper stories are more prevalent in Urdu-language newspapers.

Academic Qualifications

Media sources report that some politicians have been found to have fake degrees (Business Recorder 30 Nov. 2010; Reuters 30 June 2010; The New York Times 16 July 2010). Sources indicate that the Supreme Court has ordered the verification of degrees of parliamentarians (ibid.; Reuters 30 June 2010; AP 30 June 2010). According to the Associated Press, 10 percent of federal and provincial legislators are facing legal battles over allegations that their academic credentials are fake (ibid.). Plus News Pakistan indicates that, in July 2010, members of the Punjab Assembly "defended their fake degrees" and "attacked," "pushed," and "threatened" the media for their coverage of parliamentarians with fraudulent academic credentials (10 July 2010).

According to Dawn, in February 2011, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered the verification of academic credentials for all public servants (6 Feb. 2011). Dawn also reports that, in July 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan heard allegations that 57 lawyers of the Rawalpindi bar association held fake degrees (19 July 2011).

According to media sources, some health-care professionals have been discovered to have fake degrees (The Daily Post 9 Jan. 2010; Dawn 1 Aug. 2011). The Daily Times reports that the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PM&DC) was involved in issuing fake degrees (8 July 2010). Plus News Pakistan indicates that in 2010 the Supreme Court ordered the PM&DC and federal and provincial health secretaries to take action against fraudulent doctors (1 May 2011). Dawn indicates that, after a nurse was found to have fake academic credentials, the Rawalpindi Medical College ordered the verification of the credentials of 1,800 nurses working in Rawalpindi's three public hospitals (1 Aug. 2011).

Land Ownership

According to media sources, there have been cases of land-ownership documents being forged in what sources call "land scam" cases (Dawn 1 Oct. 2011; ibid. 21 Dec. 2010; The Express Tribune 12 Oct. 2011).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 30 June 2010. Zarar Khan and Nahal Toosi. "Fake-Degree Scandal Roils Pakistan Politics; As Many as 160 Lawmakers Face Legal Challenges." (Factiva)

Australia. 15 May 2009. Refugee Review Tribunal. "MRT Research Response." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

Business Recorder [Karachi]. 30 November 2010. Qamar Uz Zaman. "Academic Credentials: Three Lawmakers Skip ECP Body Hearing." (Factiva)

Canada. 29 November 2011. Canadian High Commission in Pakistan. Correspondence from an official to the Research Directorate.

The Daily Post. 9 January 2010. "Pakistan: 'Fake' Doctor Serves as Cardiologist." (Factiva)

The Daily Times [Lahore]. 20 August 2011. Tanveer Ahmed. "Sub-committee Recommends Holding IO Accountable for Fake FIRs." [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

_____. 8 July 2010. "Fake Degree Issue Creeps up on Medical Profession." (Factiva)

Dawn [Karachi]. 1 October 2011. "Five Convicted in Land Scam Case." [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

_____. 1 August 2011. "Nurses' Certificates under Scrutiny."> [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

_____. 19 July 2011. "SC Summons Records of 57 Lawyers Alleged with Fake Degrees." [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

_____. 6 February 2011. Amir Wasim. "Scrutiny of Govt Employees' Degrees Ordered."> [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

_____. 21 December 2010. Ishaq Tanoli. "ACE Submits Interim Charge-Sheet in Land Case." [Accessed 28 Nov. 2011]

The Express Tribune [Lahore]. 12 October 2011. Mudassir Raja. "Land Scam: Ministry Asked to Put Realtor's Name on ECL." [Accessed 5 Dec. 2011]

Lawyer and Lahore High Court Advocate. 30 November 2011. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

The New York Times. 16 July 2010. Adam B. Ellick. "Pakistani Legislators Face Accusations of Faking Their Degrees." [Accessed 25 Nov. 2011]

Plus News Pakistan. 1 May 2011. "Harsher Punishment for Quackery Sought." (Factiva)

_____. 10 July 2010. "Punjab Assembly Passes Resolution Against Media." (Factiva)

Reuters. 30 June 2010. Zeeshan Haider. "Fake Degrees Could See Pakistan Lawmakers Barred." (Factiva)

United States (US). 8 April 2011. Department of State. "Pakistan." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010. [Accessed 1 Nov. 2011]

XE. 9 December 2011. "Currency Converter Widget." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral Sources: Attempts to contact representatives from the following organizations were unsuccessful: All Pakistan Newspapers Society; Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi; Pakistan — High Commission for Pakistan in Ottawa, Press Information Department; Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists; Pakistan Press Foundation; and Transparency International Pakistan.

Internet sites, including: The Economist; Election Commission of Pakistan; European Country of Origin Information Network; Global Integrity;; Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; Interpol; Jane's Intelligence Review; National Accountability Bureau; Pakistan Today; Transparency Interational; United Kingdom — Border Agency, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; United Nations — Integrated Regional Information Networks, Refworld.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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