The Islamabad High Court (IHC) questioned the government over its reluctant attitude to disclose details of the gifts presented to Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan since his appointment in 2018, reports Dawn.
Prior to this, the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) had directed the Cabinet Division to “provide the requested information about the gifts received by PM Khan”.
However, the Cabinet Division argued that the matter did not fall under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
“What is the harm in making it public if some country has given a necklace as a gift?” asked Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb. He said that gifts received by the rulers of a country belonged to the nation and not to them, asking whether public officeholders would even receive those gifts if the public office did not exist.
Justice Aurangzeb asked: “Why doesn’t the government keep all the gifts in the museum? The government should make details of the gifts in the last 10 years public.”
He also said that the Centre should inform how many gifts had their valuation done by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). The government representative at the hearing requested time to respond, after which the court adjourned the hearing.
Earlier in September, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry revealed that Arab rulers who presented gifts to PM Khan “did not want their names to be made public”.
Toshakhana is a department established in1974 that stores precious gifts given to the rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials heads by the other governments and foreign dignitaries.
According to Dawn, it has valuables ranging from bulletproof cars, gold-plated souvenirs, expensive paintings, watches, ornaments, rugs and swords.