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Imran Khan gets relief in Toshakhana case

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  • Islamabad court accepts Imran Khan’s plea for exemption.
  • Hearing of Toshakhana case adjourned till April 29. 
  • Khan’s lawyers challenged admissibility of Toshakhana case.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was granted relief in the Toshakhana case by an Islamabad local court as he skipped the proceedings once again on Thursday.

The former prime minister is facing charges of corrupt practices related to the state gift depository — the allegation he denies.

In October last year, Khan was barred from holding public office after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) found him guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries and heads of state.

The trial court had issued an arrest warrant for the PTI chief earlier this month due to his continuous absence, despite summons for indictment in the case. 

The order of arrest, however, was canceled by the trial court a few days later, over PTI’s insistence that Khan’s life was in danger and he needed security. The court had adjourned the hearing till today (March 30) and ordered Khan to ensure his presence.  

Additional sessions judge Zafar Iqbal of a district and sessions court in Islamabad was presiding over the hearing.

At the outset of the hearing, Khan’s lawyers filed a request for exemption from today’s hearing, maintaining that there was still a strike at the Islamabad Bar which had been going on for the last three days.

At this, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s lawyer, Amjad Pervez, said that Imran Khan is not part of the lawyers’ strike.

“At the trial stage, the presence of the suspect in the courtroom is required. Imran Khan should come even if his lawyers want to go on strike,” he argued.

Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Harris responded that the PTI chief’s life is in danger and that the government has withdrawn security from him. “The chief justice of Islamabad has asked for a report on the withdrawal of Imran Khan’s security,” he said, arguing that an appearance in court can also be made through a video link.

“So the request for exemption from the presence of Imran Khan should be approved, however, others will continue with the court proceedings,” he said.

After the arguments of the lawyers, the judge asked the parties to help the court decide on the hearing through joint consultation. At this, PTI chief’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said that the next hearing of the Toshakhana case should be held after Ramadan. “Is there a hurry?” he asked.

The judge instructed the concerned parties to consult, saying the court had already convened at 8:30am.

Harris proposed to adjourn the hearing for two weeks, at which the court adjourned further proceedings till April 29 and accepted Imran Khan’s request for exemption from today’s attendance.

Apart from this, a plea has also been filed on behalf of Imran Khan challenging the admissibility of the Toshakhana case and arguments for it will be given at the next hearing.

What is the Toshakhana case?

Under the rules governing “Toshakhana” — a Persian word meaning “treasure house” — government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a dramatically reduced fee to the government for extravagant items.

The Toshakhana is under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Imran Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs140 million ($635,000).

The gifts included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials, who have alleged previously that Khan’s aides sold them in Dubai.

The gifts included seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000).

The election commission’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Following the order, the election watchdog moved the Islamabad sessions court and sought criminal proceedings against him — and the PTI chief has missed several hearings. 

Pakistan

As PM Shehbaz creates committees to address the PPP’s issues, a thaw is evident.

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In response to the issues brought up by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during their meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has established committees.

The PPP heavyweights and PML-N leaders met after Bilawal did not attend the June 12 National Assembly session when the budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2024–25 was unveiled.

The PPP chief’s concerns were mostly addressed by the prime minister at the meeting, when he also ordered committees to look into his grievances.

Sources claim that on Friday, the committees would undertake discussions to settle the differences between the ruling parties.

Bilawal once voiced concern over the PPP’s lack of faith in the budget. He emphasised that the PML-N is not carrying out the arrangement that the PPP had made to support the government.

Additionally, he charged that the Punjabi government was erecting obstacles in the way of the PPP’s advancement in the region.

For the welfare of the people as well as the growth and prosperity of the nation, Prime Minister Shehbaz urged all political parties to cooperate.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Senate Chairman, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Syed Khursheed Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, and Sherry Rehman were among the PPP delegation members.

Speaking at the event, the premier stated that additional talks over the budget for 2024–2025 were held with the Pakistan Peoples Party. He claimed that although the stock market had seen an unprecedented boom, the economy was exhibiting encouraging signs.

He claimed that the new fiscal year’s budget included measures to help the average person. He promised that committees will continue to be used for further consultation.

Afterwards, the prime minister hosted a dinner reception in honour of the PPP delegation.

In attendance were Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Ministers for Planning and Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb and Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Political Affairs Rana Sanaullah, Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Ali Pervez Malik, and former federal minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.

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The court hinted at a June 27 ruling in the Imran-Bushra iddat nikah case.

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Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi filed petitions in the iddat nikah issue, and a municipal court in Islamabad has intimated that it may rule on their cases by June 27.

Beyond this period, the court made it clear that no more time will be granted for arguments. “Even if no party appears, the court will take a decision based on the record of the case,” it said.

Supporters of PTI stood outside the courtroom during today’s hearing to show their support for Bushra Bibi.

Further Meetings Both Bushra Bibi and Imran Khan begged for their sentences to be suspended during the session, which was chaired by Judge Afzal Majoka.

The PTI founder was defended by attorney Salman Akram Raja, and Bushra Bibi was represented by Usman Riaz Gill. Khawar Maneka’s representative, Zahid Asif Chaudhry, wrote a letter.

Attorney Salman Akram Raja fervently pleaded in favour of the sentence suspension. “This case is, in fact, an abhorrent assault on a Pakistani woman’s chastity. Today, the court was presented with this entire discussion. The Supreme Court has issued multiple rulings. Each and every witness has admitted to lying to this court. “It has been made clear in front of the court,” Raja declared outside the building, wishing for the administration of justice.

The court made the observation that a judgement on the applications for sentence suspension needed to be made by June 27 at the latest.

The court stated that Salman Akram Raja’s arguments were only partially heard today in its written ruling for the day. Zahid Asif also sought for more time to prepare, and Usman Riaz Gill, Bushra Bibi’s attorney, asked for more time to make his case.

The next hearing is set for June 25 by the court. Using the available records, the decision about the applications for sentence suspension will be made before June 27, regardless of the attendance of all parties.

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“Awaam Pakistan”: These influential politicians are joining the new party led by Abbasi

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The former finance minister revealed in a statement that Abbasi will be the first convener of Awaam Pakistan, which will begin next month.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a former prime minister, will lead the Awaam Pakistan Party.

Awaam Pakistan will include former PML-N leaders Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, Javed Abbasi, Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Zahid Binnouri, Rana Zahid Tauseef, and Sardar Anwar Soomro, according to Miftah’s announcement.

The former MQM MNA Sheikh Salahuddin and former health minister Dr. Zafar Mirza will also join the Abbasi-led party.

On July 6, the AP launch ceremony will take place in Islamabad.

From August 2017 to May 2018, Abbasi, the former prime minister, held the position.

Given his disagreements with the PML-N’s upper echelons, it is important to note that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had made multiple allusions to the possibility of starting a new party.

The former prime minister filed the necessary paperwork to the poll election commission in April of this year in order to register a new political party. He and the PML-N broke apart after a year of disagreements.

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