Disclosure of Toshakhana gifts can ‘damage’ Pakistan’s foreign ties, LHC told

LAHORE – The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday ordered the federal government to submit an affidavit declaring the details of the Toshakhana gifts as “classified”.

During today’s hearing the cabinet secretary submitted his reply to the court on a petition seeking details of the gifts withdrawn from the Toshakhana since 1947.

The government recorded its apprehensions before the LHC regarding Toshakhana gifts, saying the public disclosure of such articles could cause “unnecessary media hype, which might be potentially damaging to the interests of Pakistan in the conduct of international relations”.

In his reply, the secretary told the court that the information is “classified” and can’t be shared.

The petition was filed by citizen Munir Ahmad through advocate Azhar Siddique in December 2022.

Justice Asim Hafeez asked the government lawyer about his stance on the documents being labelled as classified.

At this, Additional Attorney General Nasar Ahmed told the court that Toshakahana was transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Cabinet Division in 1973.

However, Justice Hafeez inquired that since the gifts are purchased how can they be considered as classified?

“If an affidavit comes that these items are classified then the court will not disclose those items. Maybe the court can draw a line on what information can be provided and what can be withheld,” observed Justice Hafeez.

He also directed the government lawyer to submit the affidavit of the head of the Toshakhana within two weeks.

The cabinet secretary urged it to adjourn the hearing of the case till the federal cabinet approves the new Toshakhana policy.