The Toshakhana conundrum: PTI chairman’s future in the balance

Imran Khan Toshakhana case. Chairman PTI

ISLAMABAD: Speculation over the potential outcomes of the Toshakhana case against chairman PTI, is reaching fever pitch while opinions among legal practitioners on the merits of the case, set to significantly influence future politics in the country, remains divided.

Speaking to Hum News English, Senior Advocate Imran Shafique emphasised that the onus lies with the prosecutor to establish the allegations in the Toshakhana case. However, he also noted the defence for the former prime minister is largely founded on weak arguments. 

Shafique explained that Khan has argued he declared his gifts in the tax returns, he submitted to the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), thus negating the need to declare them to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). 

He stressed that the ECP’s Assets and Liabilities form is strictly for members of Parliament, intending to mitigate conflicts of interest and corruption by requiring disclosure of all asset transfers. However, tax returns submitted to FBR merely aim to calculate tax based on the filer’s assets. Hence, the ECP form carries particular significance for lawmakers. 

Adding to the conversation, retired Justice Wajihuddin Ahmad compared the PTI chairman’s situation to former PM Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification in the Panama case. According to him, Sharif’s involvement in a business venture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) led to his disqualification under Article 62(1)(f). 

“A verdict against Khan would necessitate further legal proceedings as the legality of his actions requires thorough legal scrutiny,” he maintained.

Khalid Ishaq, another Advocate, commented that the former PM’s case is about misdeclaration, and could lead to disqualification rather than de-seating. He cited section 137 of the Election Act 2017, which requires parliamentarians to disclose their assets by December 31 each year. 

Read more: Shahzad Akbar denies selling watch from Toshakhana

“Despite taking office in August 2018, he reportedly failed to disclose earnings from the sale of Toshakhana gifts for three consecutive years (2018-2020), leading to allegations of misdeclaration when the income was reported in 2021,” according to the senior advocate.

Ishaq noted that the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Panama case stated: “The restriction imposed by Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution for the eligibility of a candidate for election to Parliament serves the public need and public interest for honest, upright, truthful, trustworthy and prudent elected representatives.” 

“Thus, the court has the authority to disqualify him under Article 62 (1)(f), and may even forward a complaint to the session judge for conviction,” Ishaq said while referring to previous instances where the ECP disqualified parliamentarians and forwarded their cases for further trials.

Verdict in the Toshakhana case is expected to be given today.

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