Toshakhana references

Buyer’s revelations not only revive questions about Toshakhana gifts, but evaluation procedure

PTI chief Imran Khan will not get away so easily from the sale of The Toshakhana gifts, especially the watches gifted by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. The Election Commission of Pakistan had already disqualified him from the National Assembly for having failed to declare the proceeds of the sale, and now the buyer of the gifts, of which the main item remains the jewelled watch, has appeared on a private TV channel, and has made disclosures which shed a garish light on the whole episode.

The disclosures are not likely to lead to further legal action. As was explained at the time of the original disclosures, Me Khan had sold gifts that he had legally taken back from the Toshakhana after paying 50 percent of their assessed value. However, that value was clearly under assessed, for while the watch was assessed at Rs 85 million, it was sold for the dirham equivalent of about Rs 280 million. Apart from Imran having been able to obtain the item by paying 20 percent of the assessment, he also obtained a massive advantage from the under-assessment,

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Though Mr Khan may not face legal consequences beyond those he has already suffered, the political consequences of the new revelations are less easily dismissed by his followers, especially as the country gears up for a general election. While he may be able to get diehard fans to buy whatever narrative he wants to peddle, he will have to explain himself to uncommitted voters, thus expending time and energy he would prefer would go on something else. He may find that the voter may not take his personal integrity as much of a given as it has been doing so far. There is also the nexus, for the first time established between him and Ms Farhat Shahzadi ‘Gogi’, woh may have been an aide of Mr Khan’s wife Bushra, but was clearly trusted enough to be entrusted with the task of selling the watch. PM’s Interior Adviser is also shown as performing the personal service of finding Ms ‘Gogi’ a buyer, raising questions about why he was performing such a personal task. There is the larger issue of the assessment method, which is obviously flawed. Being Bollywood to retain gifts after paying part of the assessed value will only be workable if the assessments are not honest. It might be best not to allow any retention, and compel the surrender of all gifts received to the Toshakhana.

Editorial
The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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