Govt ready to release Toshakhana gifts' records, Khawaja Asif confirms

Toshakana records will be uploaded to Cabinet Division's website after final decision

Web Desk

A collage of Toshakhana gifts reportedly sold by former PM Imran Khan. — GeoNews/File
A collage of Toshakhana gifts reportedly sold by former PM Imran Khan. — GeoNews/File
  • Govt takes decision in line with Lahore High Court order.
  • Records will be uploaded to Cabinet Division's website soon.
  • Final decision to be made in upcoming federal cabinet meeting.

Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif Thursday confirmed the government had given go-ahead for making records of Toshakhana gifts public following a high court's orders.

The move comes days after the government apprised the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the records of the Toshakhana gifts since 2002 were being “declassified” and would be uploaded to the internet after final deliberation. 

The LHC on January 19 directed the government to submit an affidavit declaring the details of the Toshakhana gifts as "classified".

In a statement, the defence minister said the record of Toshakhana will be uploaded to the Cabinet Division's website.

Authorities on February 22 submitted in the court a sealed record of Toshakhana gifts received by the premiers, the presidents, and the bureaucrats from foreign dignitaries since the creation of Pakistan.

Deputy Attorney General Asad Bajwa apprised the court that it was a “classified” record and the court could open it.

The final decision in this regard, however, will be made in the upcoming meeting of the federal cabinet.

What is the Toshakhana?

According to the law, whenever a head of state receives a gift from another state or country, they have to commit it to the Toshakhana. If they wish to keep the gift, they have to pay a certain percentage of the value of the gift decided by relevant authorities.

In the past, a person who wanted to retain a Toshakhana gift had to pay 25% of the assessed value of the item but in 2006, the retaining cost had been slashed to 15% by then-prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

The PTI-led government, however, increased the cost of retaining the gifts from 15% to 50%.

These gifts can either remain in the Toshakhana or be auctioned and the proceeds are deposited into the national treasury.

The Toshakhana is under the microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits. 

In October last year, the former prime minister was barred from holding public office after the top election tribunal found him guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries and heads of state. 

The ruling aggravated political and economic uncertainty plaguing Pakistan since Khan's ouster from power in a no-confidence vote.

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.

The gifts included seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a "Master Graff limited edition" valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000).

— Additional details from Reuters