Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a former prime minister, has officially begun his criminal trial for lying about the Toshakhana gifts.  Imran Khan, the leader of the PTI, was summoned to court on January 9 after an Islamabad district and sessions court ruled that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) request to initiate criminal proceedings against him in the Toshakhana reference was maintainable. The court stated in its three-page verdict that the PTI leader’s asset declaration to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was false on the surface.

Following the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) determination that Khan had made “false statements and incorrect declarations” in his election papers, the court proceedings were launched in response to the ECP’s complaint. According to the ECP ruling, the respondent “intentionally and deliberately” violated the provisions of sections 136, 167, and 173 of the Election Act of 2017, as he submitted a false statement of assets and liabilities to the Commission for the fiscal year 2020–21. As a result, it continued; he is disqualified under Article 63 (1) (p) of the Constitution. Furthermore, it stated, “As a result, he ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and his seat has accordingly become vacant.

Toshakhana debate

Toshakhana is a government division created in the 1970s to house gifts that heads of state and other foreign dignitaries gave to leaders, politicians, government officials, and functionaries. All gifts must be delivered to the deviance with the rules, but the recipients may later purchase them for a portion of their estimated value. Even though it is not against the law, selling the gifts you purchased from Toshakhana is unethical. Journalist Rana Abrar first submitted a Right to Information (RTI) request to the PTI government in November 2020, requesting that it provide information regarding the contents of Toshakhana. He appealed to the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) after the government refused and was successful.

The Cabinet Division appealed the PIC’s decision to divulge the required information by filing a writ case with the Islamabad High Court. They had argued that revealing the contents of the Toshakhana would be detrimental to Pakistan’s relations with friendly nations as well as Pakistan’s integrity. However, the judge in charge of this case at the Islamabad High Court, Miangul Aurangzeb, agreed to open the case’s files to the public. When the Toshakhana controversy first surfaced, it was claimed that Imran Khan had purchased expensive gifts from Toshakhana for a small fee and profited handsomely by reselling them in the market. Imran Khan avoided the subject when questioned, but he eventually acknowledged that he had sold at least four gifts he had received while serving as prime minister.

By paying the government merely Rs17 million, Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, could keep the priceless watch that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman gave them on September 18, 2018, during his first visit to Saudi Arabia. The look is valued at Rs85 million. Khan and his wife also kept seven Rolex watches, necklaces, bracelets, rings, diamond chains, gold pens, dinner sets, and more by paying only a fraction of their actual value. A businessman from Dubai named Umar Farooq Zahoor recently claimed that Bushra Bibi’s friend Farhat Shehzadi (also known as Farah Gogi) and Imran Khan’s former advisor Shahzad Akbar sold him a custom Graff wristwatch that had been given to Khan by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for $2 million in 2019.

Role of PML-N

The PML-N was crucial in pursuing the Toshakhana case. The coalition government filed a lawsuit against Imran Khan in August of this year for failing to disclose to the Pakistani Election Commission the cash he got from the sale of Toshakhana gifts. Imran Khan may be unfairly the target of PML-N, according to some. In contrast to the PTI, the PML-N has never supported victimhood politics. The PML-N hired reputable accountants to develop the case using solid evidence. It hired Ishaq Dar, who is currently the finance minister. A thorough consultation was also provided by Ashfaq Tola, a well-known accountant and the president of the Institute of Charted Accountants of Pakistan.

The PML-N only questioned Imran Khan’s assets and liabilities declaration for 2018 and 2019 when it discovered concrete evidence that concealment had taken place because any new assets he acquired, whether in the form of money or property, should have been disclosed in the assets and liabilities statement by section 137 of the ECP. The financial records did not disclose the proceeds from the sale of the Toshakhana gifts and the 20% payment Khan made to keep them. While waiting, PML-N gathered some information from a Fact Focus article. Also, it gathered some supporting evidence for its assertions. We learned more about this situation via Kasim Abbasi’s columns. Imran Khan broke the guidelines for selling the Toshakhana gifts when he sold gifts in the open market in Islamabad and later turned in the receipts.

The PML-N used complex data to support its media coverage of the problem. This was a sobering realization for PTI supporters, whose leader prided himself on being the sole moral and upright person in politics engaging in the behavior he criticized others of. According to the Fact Focus report, Imran Khan reportedly made roughly Rs10 million from sales of things like carpets, flower vases, table mats, tea sets, silverware, and mobile phones. The Toshakhana (Management and Regulation) Act states that an official may keep gifts with a price tag of less than Rs30,000 without receiving payment. The PML-N was confident that the PTI administration had devalued these gifts so that Khan could keep them for free.

After the ECP learned about the information, the PML-N contacted lawyer Khalid Ishaq and members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). Along with Anusha Rehman, I served as the team leader for the effort to prosecute Khan under the direction of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Ishaq Dar. When the reference was finally ready, the party considered Azam Nazeer Tarar’s advice and enlisted Khalid Ishaq to help prevent mishaps. The PML-N visited the ECP, and as everyone is aware, Imran Khan’s assertions were found to be false. Due to his inability to do so, his five-year disqualification is now presumptively likely. Not establishing the case is considered a corrupt practice under Section 137. The penalty is a five-year ban from competition, a three-year prison sentence, and a Rs. 50,000 fine.

Before the Islamabad High Court, Imran Khan contested the ECP’s ruling. The fact that the Cabinet Division still does not have the watch evaluation reports shows that others are defending him and his unethical behavior. The PML-N will be able to demonstrate that the eyes were sold for a very high price and that the amount presented in the Toshakhana was far less than the requisite percentage of the market value if it finds those reports. Thus, this is more than just corrupt behavior. It is a criminal matter that may be referred to the Federal Investigation Agency or the National Accountability Bureau.

The PML-N did not seek Khan’s removal from office. In this instance, it only adhered to the law of the land and demonstrated that Khan engaged in a corrupt activity for which there was a penalty under the Election Act. There are no false declarations about other parties like the PML-N and the PPP. Due to the lack of merit in the cases brought against them, they were not pursued. Imran Khan did not disclose anything that he received from the Toshakhana, but the PML-N and PPP leaders did. Imran Khan has so far earned a great deal of popularity. Yet, the Toshakhana case ruling and Umar Farooq Zahoor’s admissions have cast considerable doubt on his veracity. The more the Toshakhana case is publicized over time, the less famous Khan will become. Wait and see, please.


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