Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is desperate to make a comeback to the premiership, on Friday suffered a major jolt after he was disqualified by the country’s election watchdog, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Khan has been disqualified for five years for submitting a false statement in the Toshakhana case, Pakistan’s daily Dawn reported on Friday.
Toshakhana, a government department, stores gifts given to prime ministers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries. As per the rules, gifts received by these persons shall be reported to the Cabinet Division, which is the administrative head of Toshakhana.
However, it was discovered that Khan did not disclose information on gifts he received since he assumed office in 2018. It was also reported that he earned millions by selling some of the gifts presented to him by foreign dignitaries. As the probe began, the ousted prime minister admitted to selling at least four presents he had received during his tenure, according to the report.
In his reply, the report said, Khan disclosed that the sale of the gifts fetched about Rs 58 million. He, however, said they had procured those gifts from the state treasury after paying Rs 21.56 million. One of the gifts included a wristwatch, a pair of cuff links, an expensive pen, and a ring while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches, Dawn said.
Today, a four-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja found Khan guilty of charges and said that criminal proceedings will be initiated against him for misdeclaration. This is a big setback for Khan, who has been preparing for the next general elections whenever it happens.
Soon after the verdict was announced, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry, who served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting under then Khan, called the ruling a “slap on the face of 220 million people”. He asked the people to come out of their homes and said “today is the beginning of the revolution”.
In April this year, Khan was ousted from office after a coalition of opposition parties led by Shehbaz Sharif moved a no-confidence motion. The motion was moved on the ground that he had failed to revive the economy and was distracting from the stated foreign policy, which was largely about the US (some believed Khan was upsetting the US by getting too close to Russia and China). His visit to Russia at a time when Moscow was preparing to attack Ukraine was another reason that irked many including the Pakistan Army, which was instrumental in installing Khan as PM after stitching up an alliance in 2018.
Leave a Reply