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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Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Harris responded that the PTI chief’s life is in danger and that the government has withdrawn security from him.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. 

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The PPP promises the government will support the budget vote.

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Insiders state that the PPP will support the budget despite expressing reservations about it.

As previously stated, the party leaders had not yet decided whether to support or oppose the federal budget that the administration will be announcing today.

Leading figures have reportedly reached a resolution over the dispute between two parties that are allies.

In order to have the budget approved, the People’s Party will give the PML-N its whole support. Sources stated that the PPP would back the budget’s adoption “in spite of protests and speeches in committee.”

The administration promised the PPP that some of its recommendations would be included in the budget, according to sources. Voting supporting the PML-N budget is a quid pro quo commitment made by the PPP leadership.

For assistance in passing the budget, the PML-N had asked the PPP.

The PPP has not yet decided whether to accept or oppose the budget, according to PPP leader Nayya Bukhari.

The forthcoming yearly budget for 2024–25 and the state of the nation’s economy as a whole were the topics of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari’s Tuesday meeting.

The meeting was also attended by Professor Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives, a press statement from the President’s House stated.

The protection of low-income and middle-class interests in the annual budget is a priority, as highlighted by President Zardari. Along with pledging his support for fiscal benchmarks to be met, he also gave the prime minister assurances on national development.

The next budget’s proposed development projects were also discussed by President Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz. He told the president about his recent five-day travel to China, the prime minister said.

On June 12th, or today, the federal government will unveil its budget for the fiscal year 2024–25.

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PM Shehbaz will preside over today’s federal cabinet meeting.

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We will talk about the political and economic state of the nation on Tuesday, or today.

The meeting, which will take place in the prime minister’s office, will be facilitated by the prime minister.

As per insiders, the prime minister is expected to reassure the cabinet on his recent trip to China. The meeting will also include a discussion of the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The decisions made at the sessions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) are expected to be ratified by the cabinet as well, according to sources.

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Today, the IHC will hear the petitions of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi in the matter of an illegal marriage.

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Imran Khan, the founder of PTI, and his wife Bushra Bibi will present their cases in an illegal marriage lawsuit before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) today, Tuesday.

At the hearing will be IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. Regarding both petitions, the registrar’s office has previously voiced objections.

Bushra Bibi has appealed in her petition that the high court to take note of a matter that is still ongoing in the sessions court about the suspension of her sentence in an illegal marriage case.

In his appeal, PTI founder argued that the District and Sessions Judge Shahrukh Arjumand should be ordered by the high court to announce the case’s reserved ruling.

Through Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry and Barrister Salman Safdar, Bushra Bibi’s attorneys, filed the petition.

The petition was moved in the interim on Imran Khan’s behalf by attorney Salman Akram Raja.

Notably, on February 3, a civil court condemned Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Terrorist Organization, and Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison for their illegal marriage.

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