Thursday September 29, 2022

New policy on Toshakhana in the making

May 15, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A new policy regarding Tosha Khana is in the making and will be introduced in a month after which everything regarding gifts and their recipients will be made available to the general public, The News has learned.

A senior official in the federal cabinet, when contacted by this scribe, said on the condition of not to be named that authorities are about to introduce the new policy regarding Tosha Khana, which will resolve all issues.

The government of Pakistan recently denied access to information regarding Tosha Khana gifts to an applicant, claiming that the requested detail is ‘classified’.

‘A new transparent and fair policy is being developed in line with international best practices, which will be approved by the cabinet in about a month.It will resolve all issues and reveal information regarding Tosha Khana gifts and their recipients to all,’ said a source.

The clauses mentioned in the response letter issued by the government state: ‘The minister in-charge of the federal government will have to record reasons as to why the harm from disclosure of information outweighs public interest and further that information pertaining to allegation of corruption and violation of human rights shall not be excluded.’

In October last, the Pakistan Information Commission, accepting a request, directed the Cabinet Division to provide the requested information about gifts received by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Cabinet Division opposed the request, taking the stance before the PIC that this matter did not fall within the ambit of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 and challenged the order in a petition before the IHC.

The Islamabad High Court also raised questions and grilled former government over reluctance to disclose details of gifts received by Imran Khan. Justice Aurangzeb questioned. “Why is the government facing embarrassment by not disclosing gifts received from other countries?” He said gifts received by rulers belonged to the nation and not to them, asking whether public officeholders would even receive those gifts if the public office did not exist.

The PM Shehbaz Sharif informed that Imran Khan took gifts worth Rs 140 million from Tosha Khana and sold them in Dubai. A couple of days after this, all information regarding gifts received by Imran Khan and his spouse were revealed to the national media.

In response to this, Imran Khan said he retained gifts by making payments according to the law and it was his decision as they were his gifts. Established in 1974, Tosha Khana stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments and states, dignitaries.