Toshakhana reference against Imran: ECP to announce verdict today

Mumtaz Alvi
Friday, Oct 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: In a major development Thursday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued notices to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and ex-premier Imran Khan and the petitioners as it sought to announce the verdict in the Toshakhana reference against Imran Khan on October 21.

According to the notice, they have been asked to appear in the scheduled hearing in the Election Commission of Pakistan on time either by themselves or through a lawyer(s). It may be recalled the Election Commission had on September 19 reserved its verdict on the Toshakhana reference filed against Imran Khan.

The Toshakhana reference filed for Imran’s disqualification was sent to the Election Commission by the Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on the request of five members of ruling coalition. They alleged in the reference that Imran Khan did not disclose the income in his assets earned by selling gifts received from Toshakhana. The reference filed under Article 63 of the Constitution seeks Imran Khan’s disqualification under Article 62-1(f).

During the hearing, Imran’s lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar had taken the position that disqualification under 62-1(f) is only the authority of the judiciary and according to the Supreme Court, the Election Commission was not a court.

It may be noted that Imran Khan had submitted his written reply to the Election Commission on September 07 in connection with the Toshakhana reference, which detailed that as many as 58 gifts were given to the prime minister and his spouse between August 01, 2018 and December 31, 2021.

The gifts were mostly made up of flower vases, tablecloths, decorative items, wall decorations, small carpets, wallets, perfumes, tasbeeh, calligraphy, frames, paperweights and pen holders, including watches, pens, cufflinks, rings, bracelets and lockets.

Moreover, the former PM had said that out of all these gifts, there were only 14 items worth more than Rs30,000, which he bought by paying money under the regular procedure. In his reply, Imran had admitted that he had sold four gifts during his tenure as prime minister. He said in the reply to Election Commission that he received about Rs58 million from the sale of gifts from the state exchequer after paying Rs21.6 million. The gifts included a watch, cufflinks, an expensive pen and a ring, while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches.

During the hearing, PML-N lawyer Khalid Ishaq had argued that the question in the reference was about Imran not disclosing the gifts and now he has admitted in the reply to receiving gifts and also admitted that the gifts were not disclosed in the returns. In the reference, it was contended that Imran did not disclose the details of gifts taken from Toshakhana in his assets and the amount received from the sale of these gifts.

In early April this year, Imran had reacted strongly to the criticism in relation to the gifts during an informal media interaction. He claimed these were his gifts and it was his choice whether to keep them or not.