Pakistan releases record of state gifts

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Sunday released details of a record of state gifts received by public office holders and government officials from foreign dignitaries between 2002-2023, with the list containing some high-valued retentions by Pakistan’s former prime ministers and presidents.

The gift repository, also known as the Toshakhana, has been in the news ever since it was revealed that ex-premier Imran Khan had bought state gifts and then later sold them. Pakistan’s election regulator disqualified Khan from holding public office in October 2022, ruling that he had failed to declare assets he earned from the sale of state gifts.

Khan has been embroiled in the Toshakhana case since April 2022 when PM Shehbaz Sharif said his predecessor had sold state gifts worth $635,497 in Dubai. Khan’s party has rejected his disqualification and accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of targeting him unfairly.

As per the rules of the state repository, public office holders can retain state gifts worth above Rs.30,000 after payment of 50 percent of the value.

Nawaz Sharif

According to the documents— uploaded on the Cabinet Division’s website— former prime minister Nawaz Sharif retained a Mercedes Benz in 2008, whose value was assessed at Rs 4,255,919 by paying Rs. 636,888 for it.

In November 2013, Sharif— the elder brother of Pakistan’s incumbent prime minister— retained a Rolex wristwatch valued at Rs1.18 million, after paying a total of Rs243,000 for it and other items. Sharif’s daughter, and senior vice president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Maryam Nawaz’s name is also mentioned in the list. As per the document, Maryam Nawaz retained a box of pineapple (perishable) free of cost.

In 2016, Sharif retained a Christopher Claret wristwatch, a pen, a ring, pair of cufflinks and a Tasbih or prayer beads whose assessed value were Rs 2 million, Rs200,000, Rs19 million, Rs16 million and Rs 250,000, respectively.

In March 2017, while Sharif was still prime minister, his son Hussain Nawaz retained a Rolex wristwatch and a pair of cufflinks by paying Rs 186,000 whereas its assessed value was Rs940,000.

Imran Khan

As per the documents, ex-PM Khan retained a Graff wristwatch (valued at Rs85 million), a pair of cufflinks (valued at Rs5.6 million), a pen (valued at Rs1.5 million) and a ring (valued at Rs 8.75 million) after paying Rs 20 million for them.

In October 2018, Khan retained a Rolex watch, whose value was assessed at Rs3.8 million, after paying Rs754,000 for it. He retained another Rolex watch worth Rs1.5 million after paying Rs294,000 for it in the same month. In November 2018, Imran retained another Rolex wristwatch valued at Rs900,000 after paying a total of Rs338,600 for it and other items.

President Arif Alvi

As per the records released by the government, President Arif Alvi’s wife retained a necklace, a pair of earrings and a box containing a shield, assessed at Rs 1,190,000, Rs290,000 and Rs280,000 by paying Rs865,000 collectively for all of it.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari

Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari’s name is also found frequently in the record of state gifts released by the government. While president in January 2019, Zardari retained a BMW car worth Rs57 million and a Toyota Lexus worth Rs50 million after paying a total of Rs16.1 million for them and another BMW car, whose value was assessed at Rs27.3 million, after paying Rs 4 million for them.

In March 2011, the former president retained a wristwatch worth Rs1 million after paying Rs158,250 for it and some other items. In June 2011, he retained a Corum wristwatch worth Rs1.25 million after paying a total of Rs189,219 for it and some other items.

Another Cartier wristwatch worth Rs1,065,000 was also retained in October 2011 with a payment of Rs321,000 for it and an FN HERSTAL gun.

Courtesy: Arab News