Monday December 04, 2023

Toshakhana watch saga

By Editorial Board
December 09, 2022

The never-ending saga of the Toshakhana watches continues – especially the rather murky story surrounding the Graff watch allegedly sold off by former prime minister Imran Khan and bought by one Umar Farooq, as per the latter’s claims. After a back and forth on who sold the watch, who bought the watch, how money was exchanged, as well as the PTI threatening to sue for what it claims are false allegations we now have yet more developments in the case. Shafique, the alleged ‘buyer’ of the special Kaaba edition Graff watch, has denied ever buying the watch. The PTI had claimed that this gentleman owned the shop the watch was sold to and that he had bought it from them. Shafique, however, seems to be in no mood to indulge this theory and has categorically said that his shop’s name in Islamabad is being used wrongly, the receipt of the bill is not of his shop, he didn’t sign any receipt and this is not his hand-writing either. He has also warned of legal action if the ‘propaganda’ doesn’t stop.

The revelations don’t end here. Thursday also saw a brand new audio leak: this time allagedly between the PTI’s Zulfi Bukhari and Bushra Bibi, where the latter allegedly tells Zulfi that Imran wants to sell off some watches that he has no use for and she is sending them to Zulfi to sell in the market. Zulfi has denied these allegations, said that this is a fake audio clip and that he will pay for forensics to ascertain that it is indeed fake. Whatever the case may be, the tale of the Graff watch is not going away anywhere. And, given the way this story is sticking, it is time for an explanation by the PTI chairman. So far, Imran has not given a clear money trail of where the watch was sold and what was the banking transaction. The only thing the PTI has done is accuse as sellouts those who have raised questions about the value of the watch, the buyer(s) of the watch, the seller(s) of the watch, the amount the watch was sold for and through whom.

Imran Khan has always said that politicians should be open to investigation if accused of any wrongdoing; that has been the peg for his ‘corruption’ mantra against all other political parties. But in his own case, the hypocrisy we have now come to expect is rather glaringly obvious. The sale of the watches – or other gifts – is not the story: the story is the way all this has been done, the murkiness surrounding the undervaluation, where the money went, whether it was in cash or not – and who did the actual sale of the gifts. As a former PM, the onus really is on Imran to come clean once and for all. Staying silent is not coming across as stoicism but as an admission of something not quite right in the story. Much of the problem stems from the painstakingly put together Mr Clean image of the PTI and its leader. When this facade slips – whether legitimately or not – there are bound to be questions. From Toshakhana to the prohibited funding case to other issues, the PTI’s politics is as full of the same excuses and flimsy justifications it used to accuse other parties of. The PTI may have mastered the art of spin but there is only so much that can be spun.