Toshakhana case: Court to indict Imran Khan on May 10

Former prime minister Imran Khan (centre) leaves after appearing at the Lahore High Court on March 17, 2023. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan will be indicted by an Islamabad court on May 10 in connection with the Toshakhana case, in which he is accused of taking gifts in an illegal manner.

Islamabad District and Sessions Courts Additional Sessions Judge Humayun Dilawar rejected Khan’s request for dismissing the case Friday and ordered the PTI chief to ensure his presence in court.

Khan has not appeared before the court to date. He came to the capital judicial complex once to appear before the court, but due to PTI workers’ presence, chaos ensued and Khan was allowed to mark his attendance in his car.

The former prime minister was barred from holding public office in October last year after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) found him guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries and heads of state.

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 Khan stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Following the order, the election watchdog moved a sessions court in Islamabad and sought criminal proceedings against the PTI chief.

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

The order of arrest, however, was cancelled 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 March 30 and ordered Khan to ensure his presence.

However, during the March 30 hearing, Khan — who was ousted from the prime minister’s office in April last year — was granted relief till April 29 despite his absence.

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