Umar Farooq opened the Pandora Box
THE Toshakhana gifts issue over the sale of state gifts received by Imran Khan became a major sticking point in national politics after the Election Commission of Pakistan disqualified Imran Khan for making false statements and incorrect declaration under Article 63 .1.P of the Constitution of Pakistan and as per section 137, 167, 173 and 174 of Elections Act 2017 along with section 183, according to these sections a person guilty of the offence if corrupt and illegal practice shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may be extended to two years or with fine.
After months of evading the topic, Imran Khan admitted in a written reply on September 8 that he had sold at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the Prime Minister.
Dubai based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor claimed that Imran Khan’s government sold an expensive Graff wrist watch gifted to former Premier Imran Khan by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for two million dollars worth approximately Rs 280 million, at the time of sale in 2019.
Umar Farooq said in a interview that in March 2019, the then Accountability Advisor Shahzad Akbar said that he had a set of watches and if he is interested, Mrs. Farah Khan a close friend of Bushra Bibi, the wife of Imran Khan would contact him as she needed help.
The gifts mentioned include a diamond Master Graff Tourbillon Minute Repeater with Makkah map dial GM2751, diamond cufflinks, flinks with 2.12ct HIF and 2.11ct I, IF round gents ring 7.20cts, VVSI Rose gold pen set with pave diamonds and an enamel Makkah Map.
The claims by Umar Farooq a Dubai based Pakistani businessman that he is the one who had purchased a very expensive wrist watch and the other articles, gifted to former Premier Imran Khan by the Saudi Crown Prince in 2018, against a payment of two million dollars in cash, has opened a new Pandora Box in the famous Toshakhana saga.
Umar Farooq claims that Farah Khan, a close friend of Bushra Bibi had sold him the watch and other articles actually valued at 12 million dollars.
His disclosures will effect on the case as under trial in the Court of District and Session Judge of Islamabad as Election Commission of Pakistan sent in the light of criminal corrupt practice as per section 167 and 183 in the Toshakhana reference for making a false statement and incorrect declaration.
And now it isn’t good optics, and will show him in a bad light and hurt him politically and judiciary too.
It is apprehension that the Court can summon Umar Farooq in the light of disclosures and he has to be appeared before the court and Imran Khan would have to face judicial consequences in the light of reference sent to District Session Judge by Election Commission of Pakistan with regard a reference received from Speaker of National Assembly.
In principle the act of Imran Khan is proving to be embarrassing for Pakistan in diplomatic circles.
After Dubai based businessman Umar Farooq claimed that the PTI government had allegedly sold an expensive watch to him for two million dollars, PTI Chairman Imran Khan vowed to take legal action against the businessman, the TV channel Geo and anchor person Shahzeb Khanzada.
Imran Khan accused Mr Shahzeb of being supported by handlers to slander him, a baseless story cooked up by a known businessman.
Imran Khan also spoken to his lawyers and planed to sue Jang Geo in Pakistan and London, while Umar Farooq will be taken to a court in the Dubai.
Interestingly, the Jang Group accepted his challenge and continuously airing the story with reference to Toshakhana sale claims.
In response to the tweet of Imran Khan, Geo anchor person Shahzeb thanked Imran Khan for taking legal action, and Geo group will respond in the court as well.
The inner conflict in the PTI came on surface when Faisal Vawda, a former leader of PTI appeared on Geo News programme and claimed that three persons close to Imran Khan are conspiring against him and eyeing the slot of the Prime Minister.
He claimed the PTI chairman is surrounded by party leaders, which he dubbed as the specials snakes and worms that are conspiring against Imran Khan feeding him anti army rhetoric.
In the light of the background, Imran Khan should look in and around and keeps on electoral battle which is expected next year and early elections seem impossible.
With Imran Khan once close friends, Faisal Vawda and Khurram Hameed Rokhri falling out with him and consequently losing their party membership, political circles watch this as an indication the PTI may also go down the path that other mainstream parties did in the past.
Electable flying out of its camp on the signal of the powers that be ahead of the next general elections.
—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.