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Islamabad: The district court on Monday refused to withdraw the non-bailable arrest warrant that it had issued last week against former prime minister Imran Khan for his failure to appear in the Toshakhana case.
When Khan skipped multiple hearings in the case, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party filed a petition in the district and sessions court of Islamabad challenging the warrants issued on February 28.
“The accused was in a position to appear in this court on February 28 after his appearances in different honourable courts but he wilfully avoided appearing in this court,” the judge said in the statement. He further added the rule that a warrant would remain enforced until it is cancelled by the court which issued it.
NO-CONFIDENCE AGAINST IMRAN KHAN IN 2022
A no-confidence vote against Imran Khan resulted in his resignation as Pakistan’s prime minister in April 2022. In the National Assembly, a number of opposition parties banded together to introduce a resolution of no confidence against Imran Khan. Ultimately, a majority in the Lower House approved the motion, which resulted in Khan’s resignation from his position.
Pakistan’s ruling coalition petitioned the election commission in August 2022 to permanently disqualify Imran for failing to disclose information about the gifts he got from the Toshakhana in his assets declaration.
Meanwhile, the media of Pakistan had reported that Imran Khan earned Rs 36 million from the sale of three of the expensive watches gifted to him by visiting dignitaries from the friendly Gulf countries.
A five-member bench of Pakistan’s electoral commission disqualified Imran from holding public office for five years in the Toshakhana case in October 2022.
The unanimous decision said that Khan had engaged in dishonest behavior. It further stated that legal action will be taken against him for violating laws against corrupt behaviour.
Days before, Imran’s party had swept the vital by-elections, capturing six of the eight seats in the National Assembly and two of the three seats in the provincial assemblies.
A Graff wristwatch, a set of cufflinks, an expensive pen, a ring, and four Rolex watches were among the gifts.
Imran responded to the Toshakhana debate by asserting that since they were his presents, he could decide whether or not to keep them.
ABOUT PAKISTAN’S TOSHAKHANA
Toshakhana is a Persian word that translates to “treasury” or “storehouse,” and it refers to a government facility in Pakistan where gifts and other valuable items received by the country’s leaders and officials are kept. These gifts can be from foreign dignitaries, heads of state, or other individuals and entities.
HISTORY OF CORRUPTION CASES RELATING TO THE TOSHKHANA
In 2019, the Toshakhana case became the subject of a corruption investigation in Pakistan. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated an inquiry into former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for alleged misuse of luxury cars that were gifted to them by foreign leaders and dignitaries.
The investigation alleged that the two politicians had retained these vehicles in their possession instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana, which is the required protocol. The NAB also claimed that the cars were undervalued when they were imported, resulting in a significant loss to the national exchequer.
In July 2020, the Accountability Court in Islamabad ordered the seizure of the luxury vehicles in the Toshakhana case, including those gifted to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. The court also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against both politicians, who were already in custody for other corruption cases at the time.
It’s worth noting that the Toshakhana case is just one of several corruption cases involving Pakistani politicians and officials, and it reflects the country’s ongoing struggle with corruption and accountability.
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