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Pakistan tables bill on Toshakhana proposing hefty fines amid Imran Khan's legal woes

Imran Khan is accused of buying the gifts he received as the country's prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for profits.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Islamabad Published on: July 26, 2023 11:47 IST
Pakistan tabled bill in the Senate on Toshakhana
Image Source : PIXABAY (REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE) Pakistan tabled bill in the Senate on Toshakhana

Amid former Prime Minister Imran Khan's ongoing trial, the Pakistan government has presented a bill on Toshakhana on Tuesday proposing to impose a hefty fine for violation of rules that will be five times the market value of a gift.

The Toshakhana refers to a department that stores gifts and other expensive items received by public officials during their foreign visits. The Toshakhana (Management and Regulation) Bill, 2023, was tabled by Pakistan Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtzaz Javed Abbasi, suggesting the hefty fine in case of failure to deposit the item in the repository within a fixed time period, Geo News reported.

If the bill is passed by the Senate, the law would be applicable to the Pakistani President, Prime Minister and Army forces. It would also be applied to important administrative authority figures such as governors, Senate chairpersons, National Assembly speaker, federal ministers, chief ministers, attorney general and more.

The Toshakhana is under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Chief (PTI) chairman Imran Khan bought the gifts he received as the country's prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for profits.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) moved to disqualify Imran Khan in a consensus verdict last year and declared that he was no longer part of the National Assembly. Khan retained one 18-carat gold and diamond assessed watch with a value of Rs 85 million, a pair of cufflinks (over Rs 5.6 million), one pen (Rs 1.5 million) and a ring (Rs 8.7 million) by depositing just Rs 20.17 million in Toshakhana, according to the records provided by the government.

Other leaders, like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari also retained various items while depositing a smaller value at the repository. The list also includes finance minister Ishaq Dar, former President Pervez Musharaf and former PMs Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Yousaf Raza Gillani.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has reserved its decision on the admissibility of the three pleas filed by the PTI chief in the Toshakhana case.

Earlier this month, an Islamabad district and sessions court on Saturday upheld the maintainability of the criminal complaint filed against him on charges of hiding the details of Toshakhana gifts. This comes after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday declared the Toshakhana body of evidence held up against former prime minister Imran Khan "inadmissible". 

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Election Commission defers ex-PM Imran Khan's indictment in contempt proceedings till August 2

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