Admittedly – for the past two days it seems I’ve been obsessed with the Axact story – I honestly have no personal vendetta, don’t even know any person there, but it pisses me off when someone bullies another into silence and Axact has been notorious for this game since too long to remember. Any attempt to criticize Axact has landed people in a shit hole of Cease and Desist notices and a few have escalated to legal lawsuits resulting in gag orders or content deletion
Over the two days, many critics been speculating as to what’s actually going on? is there a bigger game to this controversy, than what meets the eye – lets break down the case hoping to evaluate from all angles
Axact Degree Mill Scam
This in my opinion is clear open and shut case, they have been involved in this scam for many years, last night I even stumbled across a video of one of Axact’s sham university front Rochiville University awarding an MBA to a dog, but all the investigative click work from various listed universities lead towards Axact, granted more digital forensics may need to fully prove the connection but its almost there. This is the entire reason why the company is in deep shit. Had they run a clean white color business, nothing could have spoilt this multi million dollar company.
There should be no two opinions about it, if its proven to be a scam, this needs to be caught and dealt with immediately. The government should open legal class action proceedings in various countries allowing affectees who’ve been scammed – to apply for settlements and reimburse them with damages all payable from Axact assets. Pakistan should instead be seen as proactively helping correct a crime to set an example at the very least
This is undoubtedly the biggest beneficiary with players like Express and GEO, all stand to gain from damaging a media channel which has the potential to hijack their market share, but for the theory that they may have orchestrated this entire NYT story, I have my doubts.
The story was published in The New York Times, and not in Express Tribune, had it been a big developing story being planned by the Express group they would have broken hints of it previously on its own TV channel. To hold onto a story this long, is not the hallmarks of Pakistani media, it requires the patience of a seasoned journalists who did all the investigative ground work, he may have been composing this story for many days and finally when all the things fell in place & his sources fully checked out & fully convinced NYT editors he found the front page of NYT Monday morning, which coincidentally also gets published in Pakistan – I genuinely think Declan Walsh did his own homework, though he may have been assisted locally from the Anti-BOL lobby to fill in the gaps for his investigation
Governments Shockingly Immediate Reaction
This is where a few “tells” come in which make me wonder if the government is playing this game, to have seen the Govt react to quickly to this news story with so much vendetta, something is fishy, had it been any other story, they could have dragged their feet for days and played ping-pong for hours on the talk-shows but come tuesday morning literally at noon, like clockwork the Minister of Interior announces an FIA committee and asks them to investigate this story – the same afternoon FIA conducts two raids, dozens arrested and computers racked and stacked off to the police stations.
BOL is/was Agency Funded
For the past two years since the announcement of BOL in 2013 – Pakistanis are more or less convinced that BOL is an agency funded entity (speculation) and they enjoyed full protection with a bottomless pit of cash, there was no air-time ad revenue but the gazillions there were doling out right, left and center – convinced something was not kosher. Axact degree mills business maybe really good, but not as good (or im in the wrong business) – so if it had backing then neither the Ministry of Interior nor the FIA would’ve initiated any response the same day, they did. They could have dragged their feet, but they didn’t. So could it be Axact no longer has agency support? Quite possible, could this support be only limited to BOL and Axact considered as a liability, quite plausible
As the media danced upon the raids at Axact offices on Tuesday, I shared my comments that the suddenness of this investigation reeks of an immediate damage control, brilliant media experts would say lets brace for the worst, and just get over it quickly – dragging the story 2-3 days would mean more talk shows etc for an extended period of time, now quick damage control means they get out of this mess quicker. Tells in this theory, is that immediate action, but the weak element is that FIA went further to publicly expose confiscated documents of fake universities etc, which is damning evidence to screw Axact over, so the media coverup orchestrated by Axact falters
Axact & BOL partways > BOL Launch
This is the theory which to me makes the most sense – for BOL to prosper, the Axact monkey baggage needs to be shed, for BOL to prosper, Axact’s pandoras box was to be exposed some day and this was a liability. For BOL to prosper, it needs to be seen totally independent and never to look back over its shoulder to see what new scam might be cooking up in the Axact offices on Khy-e-Ittehad.
It seems the govt fully obliged, immediate reaction, immediate raids, convincing evidence still being presented, and I’m also sure the few dozen employees arrested will also spill what truly does happen in the Axact offices. With enough evidence Axact is history, Shoaib Sheikh will surely take a hit, if he recovers or not is a different question entirely, but with enough money he can live happily ever after, but a genius scamming mind (like a ponzi scheme) he will find new ways to con people of money.
BOL on the other hand will launch, but possibly under a new management, for the clean slate to happen the agencies need for the people of Pakistan (and media opponents) to see Shoaib Sheikh publicly distanced from the BOL network. This will be a victory for the financiers or this channel – they used and abused Shoaib, got the infrastructure and were now poised to launch in a big way
I personally think Shoaib is smart and he will be perfectly fine through this ordeal, which by the looks of his 30 minute rebuttal speech, tells the story, that he’s not interested in defending Axact, but perfect to the script he’s promoting BOL and drawing the narrative away from Axact and focusing it on BOL.
I dont know if many did notice, but “The Seal of the CEO” prominently placed in front of Shoaib Sheikh during his rebuttal speech to Axact employees, read “BOL group of companies”, no longer does it have an Axact logo like some may have seen on the dias in April 2014 when he addressed the Axact team meet in Karachi, was this change of logo mere optics? I suspect not, the game play is still hard at work.
So in my opinion the bottomline – I think this controversy, happened to come out in NYT now, it allowed the investor of BOL to use this opportunity to cut away Axact, which would have been a liability upon BOL, once the dust settles BOL makes a grand entrance almost as a clean slate, provided it can distance themselves from Shoaib Shaikh and the Axact tarnished image – then its off to the media rating races for many years to come