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Thursday April 18, 2024

Toshakhana reference: Two witnesses record statements, one cross-examined

The PTI founder objected to NAB’s attempt to record the statement of Bani Gala chief security officer Inam Shah

By Khalid Iqbal
January 21, 2024
PTI founder and former prime minister Imran Khan. — AFP/File
PTI founder and former prime minister Imran Khan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir on Saturday recorded the statements of two witnesses in the Toshakhana reference against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan, while cross-examination of one witness was also completed. The court adjourned further hearing till January 23.

The judge heard the case in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi. The PTI founder was present in the court, while two witnesses of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were also present.

Imran Bashir, an employee of the company that estimated the value of jewellery set and bracelet watch, recorded his statement. He said the company was approached for estimation by the consul general of Pakistan, and the company estimated the value of Graff jewellery set and bracelet watch.

He said: “The company asked me to research the market value of the items. I estimated the value of the gifts after taking input from diamond dealers and jewellery outlets.

“The Graff jewellery set was estimated at US$19.492 million, and a report was submitted to the office of Consul General Mohsin Habib.”

The witness said: “I was given photos [of jewellery] for estimate. I work as a part-time salesman in the company.” He stated that Graff jewellery set and bracelet watch were not given to him physically for getting an estimate. He said he was not paid for the task. “I don’t know how much the company charged for the estimate of jewellery set. I don’t know what the consultant paid the company. I don’t know whether the company was paid in dollars, in dirhams or in Pakistani currency. I am not aware of any written request from the consulate for gift estimation,” the witness added.

He said it was true that he was not given the task of gift estimation in writing. “I also have no authorisation letter from the company, and I did not submit any letter to the investigating officer,” he said in reply to questions by the lawyer. He said he did not have any authorisation letter from the company to appear before the court. He said he prepared the estimate report by contacting jewellery manufacturers and market research. He stated that no specification list of jewellery items was provided to the investigating officer.

After the statement of the witness was completed, during the cross-examination lawyer Shehbaz Khosa asked him whether it was true that he was given a fabricated report from NAB, which he provided to the consul general. The witness said that was not correct. He stated that the market research documents with reference to the estimate of gifts were not produced before the investigating officer.

The lawyer asked whether the market research documents were not placed before the investigating officer as no research was carried out. The witness said that was not true, adding that it was true that the input documents of diamond experts were not provided to the investigating officer.

The lawyer said the unit of measurement of diamond was carat, but in the report it was written in grams. The witness said it was a clerical error. The lawyer asked that when neither the colour nor the clarity of the diamond was written, how did he estimate the value of the diamond? Did you see the picture? How come you could estimate the value of the diamond?

The witness replied that the value of the diamond could be estimated from specification and not from the picture. “The name of the owner of the company I work for does not know the name of HR Manager Abdullah Hai, I know this,” the witness said.

The lawyer said there were many multinational companies in Dubai but estimates of the price of gifts were taken from an Indian company. After all multinational companies refused, the estimate was taken from an Indian company.

The cross-examination of the witness was completed and the court also recorded the statement of witness NAB officer Mustansar.

The PTI founder objected to NAB’s attempt to record the statement of Bani Gala chief security officer Inam Shah. He said Inam Shah should record his statement while placing his hand on Holy Quran. He said he would also give his statement in the same manner “with a prayer that Allah’s curse be upon me and my children if I tell a lie”. However, the court postponed further proceedings until Tuesday, January 23.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan, while talking informally to the media in the courtroom, said all the gifts in Toshakhana were estimated from a small shop of an Indian citizen in Dubai. The whole case was on the same witness, who was cross-examined today [Saturday]. The jewellery was estimated at 18 million, but unfortunately it had reached 3,000 million. He said all was being done to please powerful people.

“The Colonel Sahib was listening that I was disqualified,” he said adding that while the court decision had been suspended and convicted Nawaz Sharif cleared, the appeal against his disqualification and the petition filed for human rights were not being heard.

Imran wondered what kind of democracy it was that the PTI candidates were being arrested. Despite a decision of the Lahore High Court against the rejection of nomination papers, they are not issuing a written order for the last four days. He said such tactics and election in such circumstances were going to increase political instability in the country. “However, we will fight till the last ball,” he added.