Tuesday October 03, 2023

Why does a 'fraudster' have Pakistan's gifts? Shahzeb counters Imran over Toshakhana controversy

We will face Imran Khan in any court he wants, journalist says in response to Imran's threat to sue

By Web Desk
November 16, 2022

We will face PTI Chairman Imran Khan in any court he wants to go to, journalist Shahzeb Khanzada, the host of Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath, said in a quick response to Khan's announcement to sue him and the television channel over an exclusive story about the Toshakhana gifts.

Khanzada had pulled the curtain on the Toshakhana scam, involving the illegal sale of precious gifts. Taking the PTI chief's threats in stride, the journalist challenged him to a legal face-off anywhere in the world.

“We will face the PTI chairman in any court he wants to go,” Khanzada said talking to Geo News.

On Tuesday, Geo News brought forward Umar Farooq Zahoor, a Dubai-based Norwegian-Pakistani businessman, who was sold the Toshakhana gifts by Farah Gogi also known as Farhat Shahzadi on behalf of Imran Khan when he was prime minister.

According to Zahoor, Imran Khan's adviser on accountability Shehzad Akbar called him and told him that there were very valuable gifts they wanted to sell -- these gifts were sold by Farah Gogi.

Reacting to the exclusive story, Imran Khan tweeted, "Enough is enough. Yesterday, Geo and Khanzada, with the help of their patrons, slandered me through a baseless story fabricated by a famous fraudster and a globally wanted criminal."

“I have spoken to my lawyers and I intend to file legal proceedings against Geo, Khanzada, and this fraud (Zahoor) not only in Pakistan but also in UK and UAE,” he said in a second tweet.

But Khanzada responded with some questions to Khan.

In a talk with Geo News, he told the former prime minister that all stories are aired after due diligence and he was ready to accept the PTI chief's challenge.

The journalist asked that if Khan believes that Zahoor was a "fraudster", then why does he have the gifts? "If [Khan] did not sell the gifts to him, then whom did he sell it to?"

Shahzeb Khanzada's questions to Imran Khan

  • Why were the gifts sold via Farah Gogi for $2million dollars?
  • If Imran Khan did not sell them, how did they reach Umar Farooq?
  • If the gifts were sold not to Umar Farooq, then to whom?
  • Was the money brought to Pakistan after gifts were sold?
  • If the money was brought to Pakistan, where is the banking transaction?
  • If money was not brought to Pakistan, where is this huge amount of cash?
  • Why were the transactions shown as nearly Rs60 million and not Rs280 million?
  • Did Imran Khan evade filing taxes or did he hide the money trail by not disclosing these transactions?
  • In 2019, the gifts were priced at over Rs1 billion.
  • Why were the gifts bought from Toshakhana by only paying a little over Rs20 million?
  • Why was the national exchequer dealt damages of more than Rs1 billion?

PTI defends Imran Khan

Before Khan, his party's leadership held a press conference, where they mentioned the same thing — the story was baseless, Zahoor's a fraudster, and they would move the courts.

In the press conference alongside PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the party has decided to initiate legal proceedings against Zahoor as his claims were baseless.

"In 2018, the Saudi crown prince gifted a watch to Imran Khan and the controversy over the watch's price has been going on for a while now," the former federal minister said.

Chaudhry said the watch was priced at Rs100 million, and in line with the law regulating Toshakhana, Khan sold it for more than Rs50 million in the market and filed capital gain tax on it.

Divulging into the details of Toshakahan's procedures, the PTI leader said when the gifts given to state officials arrive in Pakistan, they are deposited into Toshakhana.

Defending the former prime minister, Chaudhry said the gift items were not sold to the Dubai-based businessman and Bushra Bibi's friend had no role in their sale.

"The watch was not sold to anyone named Umar Zahoor. The watch was not handed over to Farah for sale and she has no role in it," he said, as he levelled allegations against the millionaire.

Chaudhry said Zahoor has a total of three brothers who are serving jail time in Norway. He added that the businessman himself was facing criminal cases.

The PTI leader further said that Zahoor took his children to Dubai on illegal documentation.

'Biggest thief'

Leaders from the ruling coalition also berated the PTI chairman after a Dubai-based businessman revealed that he had purchased the Toshakhana gifts given to the former prime minister by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz asked Khan to not dodge the questions and provide receipts for the sale of the gifts.

"Who sold the watch, tell me the name. How was the money transferred to Pakistan," the PML-N leader said, adding that the PTI chief, who termed others as thieves, has turned out to be the "biggest thief" himself.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Attaullah Tarar hinted that the government would start criminal proceedings against the former prime minister in the Toshakhana case as per the order of Pakistan’s Election Commission of Pakistan.

“It is the only watch got prepared by the Saudi Crown Prince for gifting to Pakistan, so its price can’t be matched with other ones. Its unique dial is of Khana Ka’aba (Baitullah Sharif) shape,” he said while showing documentary evidence of the gift’s details and the price evaluation.

He said as per rules, any gift received from abroad was first deposited in the Toshakhana and later on another procedure of market evaluation was carried out if the recipient wanted to keep it. “But nothing such thing happened in this case.”

However, he said, as per the market evaluation that had been carried out in a thorough professional and technical way, its price stood at around $12 million, almost Rs1.7 billion at that time and now Rs2 billion.

The special assistant also said Khan bought the watch set at Rs20 million only, without adopting the laid down procedure. “And now, he [Imran] has confessed to committing two crimes which are buying and selling it.”