Manaksha Memon talks about a burning issue
Though the Tosha-khana issue came to the fore sometime ago but its details were not so explicit. When the details were made public the issue became a cause célèbre for the opponents of Imran Khan and of deep embarrassment to his fan club that tried to fob it off in their majestic pattern of denial. The issue became all the more potent when the apex judiciary directed the government to put before it the list of all items received in the Tosha-khana long with detail of the people who bought some of them at heavily discounted prices. Another potent issue was also highlighted pertaining to the query whether gifts stored in Tosha-khana were the property of the state or were they given to the recipients as personal gifts that could be obtained by them after paying their value to the state exchequer.
The most damaging brunt of such disclosure has been borne by the former PM Imran Khan who had always taken the high moral ground as the only clean politician of modern day Pakistan but now the details of gifts he purchased from the Tosha-khana at heavily discounted prices have pushed him in the line of public personages who had taken undue advantage of their public offices. It was reported that Imran Khan and his current wife Bushra Bibi retained any extremely valuable items any countries presented as gifts on their state visits that include seven prohibitively expensive Rolex watches along with gold and diamond jewelry including multiple necklaces, bracelets, rings, multiple diamond chains. The gifts taken range from an expensive pen to cuff links worth millions, dinner sets to perfumes, and expensive and special Arabic perfumes known as Oud.
It was reported that the most expensive watch whose value was accessed at Rs.85 million by Khan’s own government was gifted to him by Saudi crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman when he visited Saudi Arabia in 2018 and he retained it after paying just Rs.17 million for it. This particular gift is rated to be the most expensive gift given to Pakistan and retained by any Prime Minister in recent history. Imran Khan hid these precious gifts from tax authorities in Pakistan and after hiding this precious watch gifted to Pakistan for three years, Imran rushed to declare this item in his tax returns for the financial year 2020- 21 only when his retention of Tosha-khana items became the biggest corruption scandal in the country.
Interestingly, Imran Khan did not mention any of the retained Tosha-khana gifts in his returns filed for the financial years 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21. Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi did not file any return during this period. In fact, Bushra Bibi never filed a return in her entire life and she only got herself registered with the tax authorities of Pakistan in July 2021. The relevant documents reveal that Imran Khan paid a total of Rs.38.17 million against the gifts retained worth Rs.142.0421 million. It is worth mentioning here that Khan also retained gifts worth Rs.800,200 for free. In addition many gifts are presumed to be given to him by high-ranking visitors that were not recorded. In this context it was revealed that the record of Tosha-khana does not include the gold-plated Kalashnikov gifted to the former Prime Minister Imran Khan by Saudi crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman. Retaining gifts received from foreign dignitaries by Pakistani politicians and officials have been a norm for a long time but in the case of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi it is far beyond mere a norm.
Imran Khan has been reportedly retaining the gifts from 2018 but only mentioned them in his returns in 2021 simply because of tremendous pressure exerted on him the opposition as well as members of the public. The first stone in this context was thrown by a Pakistani Rana Abrar Khalid who filed a Right-to-Information application to the Cabinet Division requiring details of the Tosha-khana’ gifts retained by the PM Khan and asked for their value. However, the Cabinet Division refused to provide details compelling the petitioner to knock at the doors of the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) that ordered the Cabinet Division to do the needful. Under duress Imran Khan was forced to submit his annual returns for the tax year 2020-21 on 30 September, 2021, much earlier than the dates of submission of his returns in previous years and declared a precious Tosha-khana item by mentioning an amount of Rs.11.68 million. The list is long making it obvious that the greed of the first couple knew no bounds and that they had no qualms in stooping to any level to take advantage of their powerful position. This greedy grab coming from a politician consecrated as Sadiq and Amin by the highest court of the land has taken wind out of all he stood for and preached to the gullible people of the country.