Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Geo News' anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada raised multiple questions over the Toshakhana transactions after PTI Chairman Imran Khan threatened to take him, Geo News, and Dubai-based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor to court.
In a major revelation during an interview on Geo News' programme "Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath", Zahoor claimed that Farah Gogi and Shahzad Akbar sold the expensive Graff wristwatch, worth at least Rs2 billion, to him — which was gifted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Khan.
In an affidavit, the businessman has listed four gifts he purchased from Farah — a close friend of Khan's wife Bushra Bibi, who was also embroiled in corruption cases recently.
Following the revelations, PTI leadership refuted the businessman's claims and said that no one named Zahoor was sold the Toshakhana gifts. Then, Khan, announced that he would take action against Khanzada, Geo News, and the "fraudster".
"Enough is enough. Yesterday Geo and Khanzada supported by handlers slandered me through a baseless story cooked up by a known fraudster and internationally wanted criminal," he claimed.
After Khan's threat, Khanzada spoke over the phone with Geo News and told the former prime minister that all stories are aired after due diligence and he was ready to accept the PTI chief's challenge.
The journalist asked that if Khan believes that Zahoor was a "fraudster", then why does he have the gifts? "If [Khan] did not sell the gifts to him, then whom did he sell it to?"
"We always run a story after complete investigation. It isn't our responsibility to find out to whom were the gifts sold; it is Imran Khan's responsibility to tell the people."
Berating the former prime minister, Khanzada said that every time he hosts a show regarding PTI, he makes sure that the party's leaders are invited, but they never show up.
“We will face the PTI chairman in any court he wants to go,” Khanzada said.
Khanzada, apart from other questions, demanded Khan to answer 11 important questions:
Before Khan, his party's leadership held a press conference, where they mentioned the same thing — the story was baseless, Zahoor's a fraudster, and they would move the courts.
In the press conference alongside PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the party has decided to initiate legal proceedings against Zahoor as his claims were baseless.
"In 2018, the Saudi crown prince gifted a watch to Imran Khan and the controversy over the watch's price has been going on for a while now," the former federal minister said.
Chaudhry said the watch was priced at Rs100 million, and in line with the law regulating Toshakhana, Khan sold it for more than Rs50 million in the market and filed capital gain tax on it.
Divulging into the details of Toshakahan's procedures, the PTI leader said when the gifts given to state officials arrive in Pakistan, they are deposited into Toshakhana.
Defending the former prime minister, Chaudhry said the gift items were not sold to the Dubai-based businessman and Bushra Bibi's friend had no role in their sale.
"The watch was not sold to anyone named Umar Zahoor. The watch was not handed over to Farah for sale and she has no role in it," he said, as he levelled allegations against the millionaire.
Chaudhry said Zahoor has a total of three brothers who are serving jail time in Norway. He added that the businessman himself was facing criminal cases.
The PTI leader further said that Zahoor took his children to Dubai on illegal documentation.
Leaders from the ruling coalition also berated the PTI chairman after a Dubai-based businessman revealed that he had purchased the Toshakhana gifts given to the former prime minister by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz asked Khan to not dodge the questions and provide receipts for the sale of the gifts.
"Who sold the watch, tell me the name. How was the money transferred to Pakistan," the PML-N leader said, adding that the PTI chief, who termed others as thieves, has turned out to be the "biggest thief" himself.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Attaullah Tarar hinted that the government would start criminal proceedings against the former prime minister in the Toshakhana case as per the order of Pakistan’s Election Commission of Pakistan.
“It is the only watch got prepared by the Saudi Crown Prince for gifting to Pakistan, so its price can’t be matched with other ones. Its unique dial is of Khana Ka’aba (Baitullah Sharif) shape,” he said while showing documentary evidence of the gift’s details and the price evaluation.
He said 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.”
However, he said, as per the market evaluation that had been carried out in a thorough professional and technical way, its price stood at around $12 million, almost Rs1.7 billion at that time and now Rs2 billion.
The special assistant also said Khan bought the watch set at Rs20 million only, without adopting the laid down procedure. “And now, he [Imran] has confessed to committing two crimes which are buying and selling it.”
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb heavily criticised Khan, asking him to decide when would he approach the court.
The PML-N leader asked questioned the PTI chief, asking if he received the wristwatch worth Rs20 million and sold it for Rs280 million. "Did Farah Gogi bring the money? Was the money declared?" she asked.
She asked the former prime minister to share the receipt of the gift on Twitter as well. "Imran Khan's handlers — Farah Gogi and Shahzad Akbar — have been caught," she added.
She said that Khan levels false allegations at others, and when he gets caught red-handed, the former premier terms them "baseless allegations".
The minister said that Khan did not respond to any notice of the Toshakhana case nor did he join any investigation.