Govt lambastes Imran for selling Toshakhana gifts

Maryam challenges PTI chief to go to court; asks who sold the watch


Our Correspondent November 17, 2022
Imran Khan and Maryam Nawaz. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

As PTI chief Imran Khan faces fresh allegations of unlawfully selling state gifts, volley after volley of statements from the ruling coalition called out the former prime minister for the abuse of Toshakhana, hinting that criminal proceedings would be initiated as per the Election Commission of Pakistan’s order.

Reacting to Imran Khan’s announcement of approaching courts against the news channel, anchorperson and the Dubai-based businessman, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz demanded that he should “produce receipts”.

“Who sold the watch, tell me the name. How was the money transferred to Pakistan,” she said, adding that the PTI chief, who termed others as thieves, has turned out to be the “biggest thief” himself.

A day earlier, Umar Farooq Zahoor appeared on a private TV channel and claimed the PTI government had sold an expensive Graff wristwatch — gifted to Imran by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman — for $2 million, worth approximately Rs280m at the time of sale in 2019.

Imran has vehemently denied the allegations and has decided to sue the TV channel as well as the anchor and the businessman in the UK and the gulf state.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Ataullah Tarar hinted that the government would start criminal proceedings against Imran in the Toshakhana case as per the ECP’s order.

He said that the government would issue a red warrant for Farah’s return from the UAE.

Regarding the expensive wristwatch allegedly sold by Imran to the businessman in Dubai, Tarar said it was the only one specially prepared by the Saudi crown prince for Pakistan and its price could not be matched with other items.

He said that as per rules, any gift received from abroad was first deposited in the Toshakhana and later on another procedure of market evaluation was carried out if the recipient wanted to keep it.

“But nothing such thing happened in this case,” Tarar added.

He said that as per the market evaluation that was carried out, the watch giftset’s price stood at around $12 million — almost Rs1.7 billion at that time and now Rs2bn.

He alleged that Imran bought the watch giftset at Rs20m only, without adopting the laid down procedure. “And now, he (Imran) has confessed to committing two crimes which are buying and selling it,” the SAPM added.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb dared the PTI chief to approach the court, urging him to tell the exact date when he would go instead of making announcements.

In a statement, she said that enough was enough, and Imran Khan would have to be accountable for foreign funding, corruption and money laundering.

The minister said that Imran Khan bought the watch for Rs20 million and sold it for Rs280 million through handlers and its proceeds came to Pakistan as laundered money which was not declared.

She said that Imran might file a case in Pakistan, Dubai or anywhere else he would have to show receipts.

The minister said the question arises did Imran buy the watch for Rs20 million and sold it for Rs280 million the money was brought to Pakistan by Farah Gogi which was not declared.

She questioned what was the fault of the anchorperson and the TV channel if Imran had sold the watch for Rs280 million after purchasing it for Rs20 million only.

Marriyum challenged Imran to disclose who brought the watch money to Pakistan and how.

Taking a jibe at Imran Khan, she said that his handlers Farah Gogi and Shahzad Akbar have been caught.

She said that Imran levelled false accusations against others, but when he himself got caught red-handed, he claimed the accusations were baseless.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said Imran put political opponents in death cells on false charges, but when he was found guilty, he started a "mantra of baseless allegations".

Separately, Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the former prime minister must face a transparent probe for selling the expensive wristwatch.

Addressing a press conference, he welcomed Imran’s move to approach the court over the matter and said the development would bring the record of the matter to light, including the individuals involved in the affair.

He said those involved in the sale of the gifts should be present in Pakistan and made to answer the details of the exchanges. “The government will pursue this matter,” Asif added.

He said the way the PTI chief perpetrated a false narrative and sold the precious gifts received from the dignitaries of a friendly country had damaged the honour and integrity of the county.

He pointed out that the scandal of selling Toshakhana watches had two important things as the dates were manipulated on which the wristwatches were sold in the market. The law was also manipulated to buy the state gifts at 20% value.

“Nawaz Sharif was lifetime disqualified for not declaring Rs10,000 and his daughter was also penalized whereas Imran Khan had crossed all ethical limits,” he said.

 “The details of all the gifts received by the Prime Minister, the cabinet ministers and including the defence minister (himself) were placed in the showcases of the prime minister's office where earlier looting and corruption and law violations were rampant during Imran Khan’s rule,” he added.

Prime Minister's Adviser on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira also joined the chorus of voices in lashing out at the former prime minister who, he alleged, was “hell-bent on derailing democracy in the country”
He said Imran not only destroyed the economy but also put national security at stake.

Kaira said Imran Khan compromised the country's dignity by selling and earning profits from gifts received from friendly countries.
The advisor said Imran’s fake narratives are being exposed one after the other to the people.

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