The gift grift

A gallery of rogues

True to their name, the Toshakhana’s records have become the gift that keep on giving. First, it was the PTI’s chairman who was having a tough time on its account, but now, with more revelations, it has engulfed almost the entirety of the apex leadership across party lines.

The report is a scathing indictment of the leadership of this unfortunate republic. And a further proof of the rut we are in is the fact that the supporters of various political parties are busy tarring the leadership of other parties all while conveniently forgetting their own leaders whose names are present in the very same report. One always knew that social media led to tribalisation and echo chambers, but for them to also exist in what, essentially, is literally the same document, is a new low.

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The spokespersons of the different parties themselves are wrestling on the granularities of the differences between the cases. Our man paid this much of a percentage, whereas yours paid this much. That is beyond petty. The real issue, one that all the politicians exposed in this report are guilty of, is that all of the items were grossly undervalued. At that value, they would have been a steal, even if a hundred-and-fifty-percent were to have been paid for them, what to speak of fifty. There are those who might feign ignorance of the actual value of luxury items, like former Prime Minister Imran Khan, for instance. But it is his case in specific, where it is not possible for him to not have known something wasn’t quite right in assessing the actual value of the items, when he himself claims he sold them at market value in order to get some considerable construction work done around his Bani Gala estate.

Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, egg-on-face notwithstanding, does raise an important fact. That the gifts of the judiciary and senior military officers should face a similar scrutiny, one every bit as stern as the ones the politicians and civil bureaucracy are undergoing. One cannot find fault in that, specially given the late Asma Chaudhry’s ever-relevant rule-of-thumb: you will forget the politicians’ flaws once you open other accounts.

Post-script: the giving of gifts by states is a curiously archaic practice that shouldn’t have a place in modern diplomacy. This is the third decade of the twenty-first century. It should be done away with.

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


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