Toshakhana reference 'misleading, baseless', Imran tells ECP

Replying to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Toshakhana reference, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan claimed on Wednesday that the case was ‘misleading, baseless and false’.

The electoral watchdog heard the case seeking Imran’s disqualification for not declaring in his assets the gifts received during his time in the prime minister's office. The former premier’s lawyers Barrister Ali Zafar and Barrister Gohar appeared before the ECP and submitted Imran’s 60-page reply to the commission.

Imran’s statement maintained that he had not hidden any assets and urged the ECP to drop the reference. He also stated that Article 62(f) of the Constitution – which states that a member of parliament must be "sadiq and ameen" (honest and righteous) – was not applicable for the case against him.

The reply to the ECP stated that during his three-and-a-half-year tenure, he received 329 gifts including watches, pens, decoration pieces, small carpets, table mats, perfumes, tasbih (prayer beads), and works of art. From these, 58 gifts were received by Imran Khan and his wife, and only 14 were worth more than Rs30,000.

“All gifts are mentioned in tax returns and details of assets and the amount of purchase of gifts is shown as an expense in the statements,” his reply furthered.

According to the reply, four units of the Toshakhana gifts were sold, and gifts were bought through payment of more than Rs20 million.

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“More than Rs5.8 million worth of gifts sold are shown in the assets,” he claimed, adding that he had not hidden any assets.

“No member of the National Assembly has declared mobiles, watches, shoes and other such items as assets till date,” he alleged.

The reply further stated that gifts sold after June 30, 2019, were not disclosed in this year's returns, and that gifts received in the financial year 2021-2022 would be disclosed in the current year's returns.

During the hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar said that the NA speaker had said that a case of disqualification was made under Article 63(2), while in the reference, disqualification has been sought under Article 62(1)(f).

Ali Zafar argued that the ECP could not hear the case under Article 62(1)(f) in proceedings of Article 63, adding that Article 62(1)(f) could be applied only by a court, not by the commission.

The chief election commissioner replied that if the barrister wanted to challenge the jurisdiction of the commission, he should file a separate application.

The ECP adjourned the hearing till September 19.

‘Not sadiq or ameen’

After the hearing, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Barrister Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha spoke to media personnel outside the ECP and said that Imran Khan's receipts for Rs29 million in the Toshakhana reference were part of the records.

He questioned how the former premier had such few receipts.

He claimed that Imran had hidden the entire Toshkhana and that it was high time that he gives an account of it to the nation.

“Imran Khan is now neither sadiq nor ameen,” Ranjha said.

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