Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Toshakhana gifts: Imran Khan sold three watches to local dealer

These three watches are in addition to ones reportedly sold by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, documents reveal

PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses Workers Convention PP170 , Lahore. — Instagram
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses Workers Convention PP170 , Lahore. — Instagram

  • These three watches are in addition to ones reportedly sold by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, documents reveal.
  • Details show Imran Khan earned millions of rupees from these jewel-class watches.
  • Laws restrict head of state to possess gifts they receive from foreign dignitaries.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan sold three watches collectively worth over Rs154 million — that he received as the prime minister of Pakistan — to a local dealer, The News reported.

These watches were supposed to be submitted to Toshakhana as per the laws that restrict any head of the state to possess the gifts they receive from officials of other countries.

Details of an official inquiry shared with this correspondent reflect Imran Khan earned millions of rupees from these jewel-class watches gifted to him by foreign dignitaries. These watches are in addition to the ones reported earlier in the media.

The most expensive watch — more than Rs101 million in value — was retained by the then prime minister at 20% of its value after his government amended the Toshakhana rules and settled the gift retention price at 50% of its original value.

Instead of buying those gifted jewel watches from Toshakhana from his own pocket, the ex-prime minister first sold the watches and then deposited 20% of each in the government treasury, the documents and sale receipts available with this scribe revealed.

Apparently, these gifts were never deposited in Toshakhana. The gift received by any government official is to be reported immediately, so its value is assessed. And after that, the recipient deposits a specific amount if he wants to keep it.

Toshakhana documents reveal the former prime minister earned Rs36 million from selling these three expensive watches gifted by visiting dignitaries from friendly Gulf countries. A real windfall profit was made through the sale of a watch gifted to him by a high dignitary from the Middle East. This watch was officially assessed at Rs101 million. The former prime minister had declared he sold it for Rs51 million and deposited Rs20 million in the government treasury, thus earning a whopping Rs31 million. This reflects the watch was sold at half the price of its actual worth.

This watch was sold on January 22, 2019 after the then PTI government amended the Toshakhana rules and made retaining the price of any gift at 50% from 20% of its assessed value.

One Rolex Platinum watch gifted by a member of a royal family from a Gulf island was sold by Imran Khan for Rs5.2 million. This expensive gift, as per the Toshakhana rules, was assessed by official evaluators for Rs3.8 million. He deposited in the government treasury 20% of the value amounting to Rs0.75 million, earning almost Rs4.5 million profit by selling this watch. This watch was sold in November 2018, two months after it was gifted to him.

Another Rolex watch gifted by a dignitary from the same Gulf island was sold by the former prime minister for Rs1.8 million. The official value assessed for this watch was Rs1.5 million. The former PM paid Rs0.29 million, earning another profit of Rs1.5 million from this deal.

All these gifts were sold to a local watch dealer. The record has the sale receipts along with pictures of these luxury watches. This scribe contacted PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill through calls and messages to take their view regarding the matter, but none responded.

The question which The News asked Fawad Chaudhry and Shahbaz Gill was, "Dear sir, it has been learned that being PM Imran Khan sold three additional luxury watches to a watch dealer in F-7, Islamabad. I have a few queries regarding the matter. If you please spare some time and answer them.

1) Imran Khan retained one watch at 20% of its assessed value when his government had amended the retaining price to 50% of the original value of the gift. This watch was retained in January 2019 after your government amended the Toshakhana rules in December 2018. Please comment and explain why rules were not followed?

2) Imran Khan did not deposit these three watches in Toshakhana and deposited money on the day he sold them. Why did he keep the gifts to himself? Please comment. Your immediate response will be highly appreciated and regarded.

Responding to the Toshakana controversy, former prime minister Imran Khan had said they were his gifts, so it was his choice whether to keep them or not.

"Mera tohfa, meri marzi (my gift, my choice)," the PTI chairman told reporters during an informal conversation.

The issue came to light when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Imran Khan, during his tenure, sold the Toshakhana gifts in Dubai worth Rs140 million. According to reports, the former premier received 58 gifts worth more than Rs140 million from the world leaders during his three-and-a-half-year stint and retained all of them either by paying a negligible amount or even without any payment.

Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry had also stated that “selling one’s own assets (after purchasing them from Toshakhana) is not a crime”. “These gifts were purchased by Imran Khan and (after he became their owner) he can sell his assets. So there is nothing wrong with it,” he had claimed.