Court to indict Imran on 10th in State Gift case

ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad court will indict Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case, in which the deposed prime minister is accused of taking gifts in an illegal manner.
Islamabad District and Sessions Courts Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar said Friday he would charge the PTI chief and ordered him to ensure his presence in his courtroom — as he rejected his requests to dismiss the case.
During the hearing yesterday, Khan’s lawyer, Khwaja Haris, argued on two separate pleas requesting the court to dismiss the case, saying the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) petition was “non-maintainable” and the sessions court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

However, the judge dismissed both requests and summoned Khan in person on May 10 for the in-dictment.

Khan has not appeared before the court to date. He came to the capital judicial complex once to ap-pear before the court, but due to PTI workers’ presence, chaos ensued and Khan was allowed to mark his attendance in his car.

The former prime minister was disqualified on his then-elected seat in October last year after the ECP found him guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries and heads of state.

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.

There were seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000).

The election commission’s order had said Khan stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Consti-tution.

Following the order, the election watchdog moved a sessions court in Islamabad and sought criminal proceedings against the PTI chief.

The trial court had issued an arrest warrant for the PTI chief in March due to his continuous absence, despite summons for indictment in the case.

The order of arrest, however, was cancelled by the trial court a few days later over PTI’s insistence that Khan’s life was in danger and he needed security. The court had adjourned the hearing till March 30 and ordered Khan to ensure his presence.

However, during the March 30 hearing, Khan — who was ousted from the prime minister’s office in April last year — was granted relief till April 29 despite his absence. However, the hearing was once again adjourned due to the absence of Khan’s lawyer.

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 has been under the 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. –Agencies