Toshakhana case: All that you need to know
In a major development in the country’s politics, police arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan from his Lahore residence after a local court in the federal capital convicted him for corrupt practices in the Toshakhana case.
This was the second time the Islamabad police went to arrest the PTI chief at his residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park area, in connection with the same case.
On May 10, the police returned empty-handed as they were met with resistance from his supporters gathered outside his house and clashed with authorities.
What is Toshakhana?
Established in 1974, Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries as a goodwill gesture.
It has valuables ranging from bulletproof cars, gold-plated souvenirs and expensive paintings to watches, ornaments, rugs and swords.
What is the case?
Under the rules governing Toshakhana — a Persian word meaning “treasure house” — government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a dramatically reduced fee to the government for extravagant items.
The Toshakhana has been under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs140 million ($635,000).
The gifts included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials, who have alleged previously that Khan’s aides sold them in Dubai.
Moreover, seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000), were also among the gifts.
A reference was forwarded by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to the Election Commission asking it to probe the matter.
In October 2022, the electoral body declared the former premier guilty of corrupt practices and filed a complaint in an Islamabad court.
A timeline of Toshakhana case
On October 21, 2022, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) maintained that the former prime minister made “false statements and incorrect declarations” about the gifts and disqualified him under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.
Subsequently, the election watchdog moved a sessions court in the federal capital, seeking criminal proceedings against the PTI chief for allegedly misleading the ECP regarding gifts received from foreign dignitaries while he was in office.
The trial court indicted the PTI chairman on May 10 and rejected his petition to declare the case inadmissible.
On July 4, the IHC overturned the trial court’s ruling and directed it to rehear the petitioner and decide the matter within seven days.
On July 8, ADSJ Humayun Dilawar declared the Toshakhana case against Khan as maintainable, which was again challenged in the IHC.
During the trial proceedings, Khan’s lawyers also accused the presiding judge of bias on the basis of his Facebook posts and sought the transfer of the case.
On August 2, the trial court rejected the list of witnesses presented by the PTI chairman, stating that he failed to prove their “relevance” in the criminal proceedings against him. It was also challenged in the high court.
However, the PTI chairman again moved the high court seeking a stay and transfer of the case to another court.
On August 4, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq referred the matter back to the trial court with a direction to re-examine the jurisdiction and any procedure lapse in the filing of the complaint by the Election Commission.
The chief justice decided four petitions by Imran Khan against jurisdiction, alleged defective filing of the complaint, transfer of the case and the controversial Facebook posts of the judge.
Today, when ADSJ Humayun Dilawar resumed the hearing, no representative of the PTI chairman appeared before him. The court then adjourned the hearing multiple times and reserved the verdict after no one from the defence team appeared.
Later, the judge announced the verdict, stating that the PTI chief has been found guilty of corrupt practices and sentenced him to three years in jail.