PTI assails ECP as Toshakhana case verdict due today

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is all set to announce on Friday (today) its verdict in the Toshakhana case against former prime minister Imran Khan.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the much-awaited decision, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) continued its tirade against the ECP and its alleged partiality.

The judgement was reserved over a month ago by a five-member ECP bench headed by the chief election commissioner after hearing arguments from both sides. The reference against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman was filed by the coalition government for “not sharing details” of the gifts he retained from the state Toshakhana and proceeds from their alleged sale.

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had sent the Toshakhana reference to the ECP, seeking Mr Khan’s disqualification, in August. The reference contended that the PTI chief did not disclose the details of gifts taken from the state treasury and the amount received from the sale of those gifts.

Barrister Ali Zafar, while representing Mr Khan before the bench, had urged the ECP to quash the reference, terming it “misleading” based on “mala fide intentions and political motives”.

With the disqualification reference, ruling alliance MNAs had also attached documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the former PM and sought his disqualification under sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f).

In a written reply submitted to the ECP, Mr Khan had admitted to having sold at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the prime minister. He maintained that the sale of the gifts he had procured from the state treasury after paying Rs21.56 million fetched about Rs58m. The gifts included a wristwatch, a pair of cufflinks, a pen and a ring as well as four Rolex watches.

Established in 1974, the Tosha­khana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stored precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.

PTI takes on ECP

On the eve of the crucial verdict, senior PTI leader Asad Umar again took aim at the ECP, which had raised a question over Mr Khan’s contesting of National Assembly seats. The commission had noted that since Imran Khan’s resignation from the NA was yet to be accepted, how he could contest elections on other seats.

Responding to this, Mr Umar in a statement asked the ECP to refer to Article 223 of the Constitution, which he claimed supported the party’s stance that a sitting MNA could take part in elections on other seats of the lower house. He also insisted that the PTI chairman had resigned from his National Assembly seat.

“It seems that ECP is thinking up new ways to prove itself a political stakeholder every day,” Mr Umar said.

On the other hand, former minister Fawad Chaudhry hinted that informal talks were taking place between the PTI and government at certain levels.

Mr Chaudhry said during a presser on Thursday that if early elections were announced in the coming days, it would mean the negotiations had been successful. If not, he said, the long march would be announced.

Responding to a question about the possibility of PTI’s return to parliament, he said the Supereme Court had turned down the government’s request to stop Imran Khan’s planned long march, and that PTI voters did not want their MNAs to go back to parliament, either.

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