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Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Harris responded that the PTI chief’s life is in danger and that the government has withdrawn security from him.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

Politics

Bilawal toes father Zardari’s line of political ‘unity’ ahead of polls

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  • PPP chief Bilawal calls for burying politics of hatred, division.
  • Says wants to introduce new style of politics to end rivalries.
  • Zardari not afraid of “forces”, wants son Bilawal to become PM.

Following reports of differences between the top Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, party chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari has called for “burying” politics of hatred and division in line with the vision of his father Asif Ali Zardari’s reconciliatory politics.

“We have to do politics wherein we should think about unity and not of division. The PPP wants to start a new kind of politics in the country,” Bilawal said while addressing a public rally held to mark the PPP’s 56th foundation day in Quetta.

Bilawal said his party wanted to promote a style of politics under which there is no rival party of the PPP.

“PPP is fighting against inflation and poverty due to which people are suffering. The old style of politics is based on hatred, division, and revenge. The country’s youth needs to bury such politics,” the PPP chief added.

The PPP chief apparently lowered his rhetoric against his rivals in his first public interaction since his father Asif Ali Zardari’s interview wherein the top PPP leader termed his son “inexperienced” while expressing displeasure over his tirade against the elder politicians.

The interview broadcast on Geo News last week triggered speculations that there were cracks among the top PPP leadership.

However, the party quickly rejected the rumours, and Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari, the daughter of PPP Co-chairman Zardari, put to rest the speculation asking people to not pay heed to the headlines

She also shared an image with her family — including Zardari, Bilawal, and aunt Faryal Talpur. All of them seemed in a happy mood.

In the same gathering, Bilawal also fired a broadside at his political rivals saying that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is now known as the “mehangai [inflation] league” in the country.

“People know that they are showbaz [showmen] of politics,” the PPP chief added.

Bilawal said Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the PML-N wanted to roll back the provincial autonomy granted under the 18th Amendment.

“They want to occupy the resources of the provinces..PPP will not let this conspiracy to succeed.”

Jiyala next PM’

Bilawal also announced giving a surprise to the entire in the February 8, 2024 general elections saying the jiyala [PPP worker] will become the country’s new prime minister.

Addressing the gathering, Zardari called for the support of his son to make him the country’s youngest prime minister.

“We have to teach Bilawal what we know […] we have to train him to make him a leader of the youth.”

The former president also said that some forces are always at play to pull the legs of a leader who wants to take the country forward.

“We are not afraid of such forces. We trust our people.”

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Pakistan

COAS Gen Asim Munir meets Kuwaiti crown prince

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  • PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar to meet Kuwaiti crown prince today. 
  • Both army chief and PM are in Kuwait on official visit. 
  • PM Office says multiple MoUs expected to be signed during visit. 

Army chief General Asim Munir on Tuesday met Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as part of his official visit to the gulf country, reported Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The meeting was also attended by Caretaker Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam, Pakistan Ambassador to Kuwait Malik Mohammad Farooq and other members of the delegation.

Meanwhile, PM Kakar has also arrived in Kuwait City after concluding the UAE visit and is expected to meet the crown prince today, the PM Office said on Wednesday.

The premier will also meet his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Ahmed Al-Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

The PM office said that a number of memorandum of understanding (MoUs) will be signed for mutual cooperation in various sectors including manpower, information technology, minerals and mining, food security, energy and defence.

In UAE, Pakistan signed several MoUs worth multi-billion dollars in a range of areas on Monday to boost economic and strategic cooperation between the two countries, PM Kakar said.

The prime minister said with the signing of the MoUs, the bilateral economic and strategic relations had entered into a new era of bilateral cooperation.

Congratulating the people of Pakistan and the UAE, he said the foundation of friendship with Pakistan which was laid by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the 1970s, had been taken forward by his son Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to a new era.

PM Kakar expressed the hope that the MoUs that were signed by the two countries would turn into tangible projects very soon.

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Imran Khan’s aide kickstarts PTI funding campaign in Europe

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LONDON: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Zulfi Bukhari has kickstarted a mass mobilisation and fundraising campaign for the party in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Addressing a workers’ convention in High Wycombe in London along with Sahibzada Jahangir, one of the founders of PTI, Zulfi said that the mass mobilisation and fundraising has been started for the elections scheduled for February next year.

“We will take part in elections at any cost. We need funds and effort from the overseas regions. The party needs funds for its legal challenges as well for the election campaign,” he said.

Zulfi said the entire leadership is prepared for the elections and will not be deterred by the arrest threats.

The former cabinet member said he will be going to Pakistan himself as soon as the party leadership directs him, adding that he was prepared to go to jail.

However, it is unlikely that Zulfi will be travelling to Pakistan anytime soon as the caretaker govt has requested Interpol for his arrest. He was in Dubai when the Interpol request was made, he left UAE and since then has not travelled outside London.

Zulfi said he will be personally visiting cities in the United Kingdom and Europe to raise funds.

The PTI leader revealed that the campaign in the UK is scheduled to start shortly and arrangements are in place. He said the PTI Core Committee was meeting daily to discuss affairs of the party to formulate strategies on a daily basis.

Zulfi Bukhari has so far stayed away from PTI UK events but his decision to take part in mobilisation suggests he has been asked by the leadership in Pakistan to engage with the local chapter.

Two weeks ago, he told an audience at the University of London that making Usman Buzdar Punjab’s chief minister was a mistake but Imran Khan did the right thing by not sacking him.

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