Toshakhana gifts: Bits of leaked Maryam Nawaz interview drop a ‘real bombshell’ on govt

Web Desk

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senior Vice President and Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz once again found herself in a political pinch after off-the-record or rather forced-to-censor bits of her recent interview with a news TV channel were leaked to social media platforms.

The off-air part of Maryam’s interview with anchorperson Mansoor Ali Khan went viral on social media where she can be seen asking the production team to stop recording certain burning questions being asked by the host of the show.

Maryam also tried to evade questions regarding a BMW vehicle she received during 2009-10 which was sold out in 2011-12.

The host also questioned her if PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was gifted a Mercedes by Saudi Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz which was cleared in 2008.

“Why was the gift that was received in the 1990s cleared in 2008?” he questioned, adding that as per the Toshakhana laws, cars weren’t allowed at that time.

Mansoor further mentioned that in 2008 under the government of prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani rules and laws were relaxed to benefit Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.

The PML-N senior vice president was then seen asking the cameraperson to stop recording and apparently asked her staff to share the facts regarding the matter.

While trying to calm the PML-N leader, a lady behind the camera can be heard assuring her that the off-the-record conversation would not be a part of the interview.

When Mansoor shared the details of the laws, Maryam told him that she wasn’t aware of the actual facts and figures in this regard and that she would check the details.

Later, in a tweet, Maryam defended her actions by saying that she did not have the required information and “did not want to say anything that was factually incorrect”.

'Real bombshell'

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters and leaders were quick to call her out as their leader — Imran Khan — faces charges of corrupt practices related to the state gift depository.

Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudry quote-tweeted the video clip, terming it the “best part of the interview”.

“Best part of the interview how come this part was excluded from the original script? Real bombshell tou yeah tha [this was the real bombshell],” he wrote.

In a separate tweet, Fawad shared a video clip where Maryam was being questioned about a BMW car.

“I wish I was rich enough to own a BMW and not even know I had such an expensive car but for this, it is necessary to be a Sharif and dumb,” the former information minister taunted.

Toshakhana under microscope

Toshakhana gifts have been the talk of the town since Khan was ousted from prime minister office in April last year as both the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led coalition government and the PTI continue to trade barbs over the state gift depository every now and then.

Under the rules governing "Toshakhana" — a Persian word meaning "treasure house" — government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a dramatically reduced fee to the government for extravagant items.

The Toshakhana is under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits.

The PTI chief 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 Rs85 million ($385,000).

The election commission's order had said Khan stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Following the order, the election watchdog moved the Islamabad sessions court and sought criminal proceedings against him — and the PTI chief has missed several hearings.

Thumbnail image is a screengrab of the viral video showing PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz (L) and anchorperson Mansoor Ali Khan. — Screengrab/Twitter