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Toshakhana case: Did Cabinet Division harm PDM Government?

Toshakhana case: Did Cabinet Division harm PDM Government?
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Islamabad, Pakistan: The multiparty Cabinet rejected the reply Cabinet Division submitted in Lahore High Court over the Toshakhana case; calling the move of the Cabinet Division “unacceptable” and “politically harmful” for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who then directed Secretary Cabinet Division to withdraw reply from the Court before next hearing. The Cabinet also decided to public Toshakhana record.

According to political circles, a grave discussion took place in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting over the reply submitted by Secretary Cabinet Division in Lahore High Court. The majority of Cabinet members raised their voices against the “administratively reckless” and “politically unacceptable” reply that the Cabinet Division submitted in Lahore High Court over the Toshakhana case. Even some members were of the view that everything was staged to harm PDM politically therefore first a case was moved in LHC and then a ditto answer was submitted that was earlier submitted by the PTI government in a case of the same nature.

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Sources claimed that some Cabinet members claimed that the Cabinet Division reply had virtually defeated PDM stance over the alleged corruption of former Prime Minister Imran Khan by submitting a reply in Lahore High Court stating Toshakhana data is a state secret and cannot be public.

It is pertinent to mention that on January 19, 2023, in response to the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) directive to provide details with regard to Toshakhana gifts, the PMLN-led Federal Government excused itself from complying with the orders, arguing that it may lead to damaging Pakistan’s foreign relations.

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In Lahore High Court, Federal Government argued that “The Right of Access to Information (RTI) Act, 2017”, also provided exemption from disclosure of the information that pertained “to the personal privacy of an individual, the information declared as classified by the minister-in-charge of the federal government and the information whose disclosure may cause damage to the interests of Pakistan in the conduct of international relations.”

The reply of the Federal Government was contrary to the decisions and observations of the Pakistan Information Commission giving in the Rana Abrar Khalid vs the State of Pakistan case.

 

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The case of Toshakhana gifts received and sold by former Prime Minister Imran Khan had been an advantage for anti-PTI elements since Khan was voted out from PM Office last April. In the last nine months, the entire paradigm of Khan’s corruption was placed by the PDM government on two major cases— Toshakhana gifts and the Al-Qadir University land issue. Interestingly PMLN-led Federal Government submitted the same reply the PTI government submitted to Islamabad High Court when journalist Rana Abrar Khalid demanded an answer from Cabinet Division. More interestingly, the reply was written by the same group of bureaucrats who helped Imran Khan to place Toshakhana allegedly at the mercy of private people like Farah Gogi who could take state gifts worth millions of dollars out of the country to sell them in the international market.

After this reply, the PMLN-led PDM virtually lost moral grounds to grill Imran Khan in the Toshakhana gifts case. The second important alleged corruption case against Imran Khan promoted in the media was the Al-Qadir University land case that is no more in the media nowadays because PMLN circles look shy to raise this case in the media and political circles claim that reason for the mysterious silence is the alleged involvement of a business tycoon in this saga.

The journalist Rana Abrar Khalid who raised the Toshakhana gifts case claims that he is not living a normal life since he raised Toshakhana gifts and he had been the subject of state suppression and repression since then. Even after passing nine months in government, PDM parties have not taken any action against those who victimized Rana Abrar Khalid financially as well as psychologically because they are members of the permanent state— the bureaucracy.

The submission of the Federal government statement in the Lahore High Court over the Toshakhana gifts case left Rana Ibrar and many such journalists in shock who try to raise their voices against injustice. They have reasons to believe that they are doing a futile exercise of risking their lives to stand against the state-sponsored alleged corruption. Asad Ali Toor and many more journalists who faced state-sponsored purges during Imran Khan had no clue why the sitting government is shy to take people to task who followed and executed illegal orders of Khan’s regime willfully.

Journalistic circles believe that the reply of the Federal Government in the Lahore High Court on the Toshakhana gifts case was not a simple move for anybody—neither for Imran Khan nor for the PMLN government. After this reply PMLN-led government lost moral justification to abuse Imran in this case and could not raise this issue in any election campaign in the future while Imran Khan got a huge moral win by stating that I am not the only nude in the public bath.

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Central Desk
Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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