PIC fines cabinet secy for disobeying orders
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has imposed a fine equal to one month’s salary on the cabinet secretary for disobeying the order of providing details of gifts which former premier Imran Khan had received from the Toshakhana.
Chief Information Commissioner Muhammad Azam and Information Commissioner Zahid Abdullah issued a written order stating that despite repeated notices, the cabinet secretary was not complying with the orders. They added that a final warning was issued to the secretary but he did not follow the instructions of the commission.
The cabinet secretary is fined under the Access to Information Act, 2017. The accountant general has been directed to deduct one month’s salary of the cabinet secretary as penalty and submit an implementation report.
Former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi retained all the 112 valuables worth Rs142.02 million gifted by different countries, either for free or purchased at a throwaway price of Rs38 million.
The official documents, available with APP, revealed that Imran and his wife retained 52 free gifts worth Rs800,200 “without paying a single penny”.
The list of Toshakhana gifts received by ex-PM Imran between August 2018 and December 2021 remained a secret during his tenure, making the situation scandalous to reports of hiding the information from the tax authorities.
Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division which maintains the record of the precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, and officials by heads of other governments, states, and foreign dignitaries as a goodwill gesture.
The then government had adopted the stance that the disclosure of any information related to Toshakhana would jeopardise international ties.
The list of gifts showed that the other valuables were kept by the couple after paying a meagre amount than the assessed value.
From seven luxurious Rolex and other expensive watches to gold and diamond jewellery including multiple necklaces, bracelets, rings, multiple diamond chains, an expensive pen and cufflinks worth millions, dinner sets, perfumes, and Oud fragrance, the couple retained everything that different states of the world were gifting to Pakistan.
The most precious gift was presented by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman during the very first visit of Imran to the kingdom. However, the Rs85 million Graff wristwatch was retained by the former prime minister by paying only Rs20 million.
In April this year, the Islamabad High Court had given the observation that the Toshakhana gifts taken home by individuals should be taken back. It had stated that there should not be a policy of retaining these gifts on the payment of a certain percentage of money.
During hearing of two petitions, one by a citizen seeking implementation of the PIC order and the other by the Cabinet Division challenging that order, IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb also observed that details of the gifts received by ex-PM Imran be released.
“The gifts given to the government of Pakistan go to the office. These gifts are not meant to be taken home,” the judge had noted. “People come and go but the Prime Minister’s Office remains. It should not have been the policy of taking a gift home by paying a certain percentage of money,” he had added.
Source: Express Tribune