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An Accountability Court (AC) on Wednesday awarded 14 years each imprisonment to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and his wife Bushra Bibi in the Toshakhana case.
PTI founder and his wife were also disqualified from holding any public office for 10 years. The judge also slapped a fine of Rs78.70 million each.
Toshakhana Reference Case:
On August 4, 2022, Members of the National Assembly (MNA) from the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), filed a reference with the Speaker of the National Assembly, seeking ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s disqualification as a member of the assembly.
The reference alleged that the prime minister failed to declare the money earned from the sale of the gifts in his statement of assets and liabilities, which all legislators are required to submit annually to the ECP.
In a disclosure letter to the ECP, the former prime minister admitted to selling four presents from Toshakhana but also said that he bought them from the government by paying a percentage of their value.
As per a report, in a letter to ECP Khan admitted that he sold the gifts at a premium and used the proceeds to construct an approach road to his Banigala residence.
On October 21, 2022, Imran Khan was disqualified from the National Assembly for five years by the ECP after he was found guilty of concealing facts about selling expensive gifts.
A four-member bench, headed by Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, announced the verdict at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad and also ordered to initiation of criminal proceedings against Imran Khan for misdeclaration.
What Is Toshakhana?
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana department stores gifts and other expensive items received by public officials. According to its rules, officials must report the gifts and other such materials received by them to the Cabinet Division. Only the president and the prime minister are exempt and can keep gifts that cost less than Pakistani Rupee (PKR) 30,000. The two premiers of Pakistan can also retain the expensive gifts from Toshakhana by paying a certain percentage of their value assessed by the government.
Why Were Toshakhana Details Sought?
The controversy arose when Imran Khan, who came to power in 2018, resisted disclosing details of the many presents he received during his time in office on demand from a journalist under Pakistan’s Right To Information (RTI) law.
The request was declined by the PTI-controlled central government citing concerns that doing so would severely impact relations with other countries.
The journalist complained to the Federal Information Commission after the Cabinet Division refused to disclose the Toshakhana details of Imran Khan. The commission instructed the Cabinet Division to furnish it as per the RTI. However, the Imran Khan-led government failed to comply with the directive, prompting the requesting party to approach the high court to enforce the Federal Information Commission’s decision.
In April 2022, IHC ordered the government to furnish the information, but before it could be processed, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took over power from the Imran Khan administration.
What did Imran Khan get from Toshakhana?
Imran Khan, as a prime minister reportedly received five expensive wristwatches, including a Graff watch, worth 3.8 million Pakistani rupees (PKR) in gifts during his tenure. Khan retained these gifts in October 2018 after paying a quarter of a million.
In September 2018, Khan paid PKR 20 million to retain a different Graff wristwatch worth PKR 85 million, a pair of cufflinks worth PKR 5.6 million, a pen worth PKR 1.5 million, and a ring worth PKR 8.75 million.
A Rolex worth PKR 1.5 million was also retained by Khan for PKR 294,000.
In November 2018, he retained another Rolex worth PKR 900,000 and paid PKR 338,600 for it and some other items.
A year later, in October 2019, he retained a boxed watch, assessed at PKR 1.9 million for Rs 935,000. In September 2020, another Rolex, assessed at PKR 4.4 million, was retained for PKR 2.4 million. This amount also included other gifts.