Govt refuses to reveal details of foreign gifts given to PM Imran

The federal government has refused to make public details of gifts given to Prime Minister Imran Khan by foreign heads of states, saying the disclosure can damage country’s national interest and its relations with other states.

The development comes after Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) on an application of a citizen sought details from the PTI-led federal government, Express News reported on Monday.

However, the federal government challenged the matter in Islamabad High Court (IHC), maintaining that the details of the gifts received by the prime minister of the country have been designated as “classified”.

Assistant Attorney General Atiqur Rehman Siddiqui appeared in the IHC on behalf of the federal government and told the court that revelations about the gift exchanges between the head of states could trigger unnecessary media hype and can damage Pakistan’s relations with other countries.

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The IHC has adjourned the hearing while issuing notices to PIC and petitioner Abrar Khalid seeking their reply on the matter.

Gifts are routinely exchanged between heads of states or officers holding constitutional positions on the eve of a state visit.

According to the gift depository (Toshakhana) rules, these gifts remain the property of the state unless sold at an open auction. Rules allow officials to retain gifts with a market value of less than Rs10,000 without paying anything.

Earlier this month, former president Asif Ali Zardari moved an accountability court for his acquittal in the Toshakhana reference.

In September 2020, an anti-graft court had indicted the former president along with ex-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the reference.

Zardari had been accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of illegally retaining expensive vehicles gifted by various foreign states and dignitaries instead of depositing them in the Toshakhana.

According to the anti-corruption body, Zardari retained the vehicles “against a nominal payment of 15% of their total value” through “dishonest and illegal means for personal benefit and interest”.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)