Former Pakistani Prime Minister Khan has threatened to be banned from politics if he receives gifts

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Khan has threatened to be banned from politics if he receives gifts


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan could be banned from political office on Friday when the Electoral Commission decides on allegations he misled officials about gifts he received from foreign leaders during his tenure.

The case is another twist in the political infighting that began before Khan’s ouster on April 10 and is one of several being fought by the former international cricket star and his Pakistani party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Pakistan’s courts are often used to embroil lawmakers in lengthy court cases that criticize human rights monitors for stifling political opposition, but the commission’s involvement in the case stems from a requirement for elected officials to disclose all their assets.

“In our opinion, the Electoral Commission of Pakistan is not a court, so it cannot disqualify anyone,” PTI Senator Syed Ali Zafar, a lawyer representing Khan, said at a news conference Friday before the ruling.

The case revolves around a government agency known as “Toshakhana,” which during the Mughal period referred to the “treasure houses” kept by the princely rulers of the subcontinent to house and display gifts they were lavished on.

Government officials must declare all gifts, but may hold them below a certain value.

More expensive items must go to Toshakhana, but in some cases the recipient can buy them back at around 50 percent of their value – a discount Khan raised from 20 percent during his tenure.

Pakistani newspapers have been running lurid stories for months claiming that Khan and his wife received millions of dollars’ worth of lavish gifts while traveling abroad.

These included luxury watches, jewellery, designer handbags and perfumes.

Khan is accused of not declaring some gifts or the profit made from them.

The complaint to the Electoral Commission was first made by the Pakistan Democratic Movement, a coalition whose members now form the government, when Khan was in office.

At the time, Khan said he had not released some gifts for national security reasons, but admitted in a written submission he had bought items worth nearly 22 million rupees ($1 million) and later for more than double that to have sold amount.

He says the assessment was done through the right channels.

If the commission rules against Khan, he could face punishment ranging from suspension to ban from public office, but extreme sentences are usually challenged in court and often overturned.

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