Thursday August 11, 2022

Toshakhana scam: NA speaker okays reference against Imran

It is likely that Raja Pervez Ashraf will announce his decision in a day or two

August 04, 2022
PTI Chairman Imran Khan during Public gathering. —Photo File
PTI Chairman Imran Khan during Public gathering. —Photo File 

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf has approved a reference against PTI Chairman Imran Khan for his disqualification under Article 62 in the Toshakhana scam and consigning it to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for further probe and action.

Highly-placed parliamentary sources disclosed on Wednesday that the speaker, after marathon consultations and study of the matter, declared the reference fit for consideration by the ECP to disqualify Imran for any political office. 

The sources told The News that Raja Pervez Ashraf, who also served as prime minister, had issued instructions to his secretariat to process the reference on a priority basis for its submission to the ECP since the reference filed by former minister of state Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, PPP MNA Agha Syed Rafiullah and JUI MNA Maulana Salahuddin Ayubi was fit for consideration by the ECP. The reference was filed by the three legislators last month.

It is likely that Raja Pervez Ashraf will announce his decision in a day or two and most probably the announcement will come today (Thursday). The speaker is bound to take a decision about such a reference within 30 days of its submission. Immediately after the announcement by the speaker, the reference would be forwarded to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

It was reported that a necklace Imran Khan received as a gift during his days as prime minister was not sent to the Toshakhana but given to an aide who sold it to a jeweller in Lahore for Rs18 crore. A few lakh rupees are said to be submitted to the Toshakhana by the-then government in lieu of the gift, due to which the agency concerned initiated a probe.

As per the law, state officials are required to submit the gifts they receive from dignitaries to the Toshakhana. If they fail to submit a gift or at least half the amount the gift is worth, it is an illegal act.

Imran Khan followed a novel way of payment as he used to take a gift without making any payment and after selling it deposited a nominal amount as ‘payment’ of the price of the gift. This practice was also in utter violation of the laid-down procedures and law, the sources reminded.

The allegation of misuse of Toshakhana gifts against Imran Khan has brought to light the laws regarding the Toshakhana and the procedure with which gifts can be accepted or disposed of by government figures. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had reportedly stated that Khan took gifts worth Rs140 million from the Toshakhana and sold them in Dubai.

As per the procedure laid down by the federal cabinet, gifts valued above Rs30,000 may be allowed to be retained by the recipient on payment of 50 per cent of the value exceeding the basic exemption of Rs30,000. Allowing government leaders to buy gifts at a discount, with the value being determined by government experts at the FBR, is a recipe for misuse.

The sources pointed out that Raja Pervez Ashraf had convened a high-level meeting of his secretariat officials today and it appeared that he would give a go-ahead signal in the same meeting.

The reference was filed under Article 62 of the Constitution and reads: “62. Qualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) 6[62. (1) A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) unless (d) he is of good character and is not commonly known as one who violates Islamic injunctions; (e) he has adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins; (f) he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and Ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law.”