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Friday, April 12, 2024

Toshakhana: The zenith of Imran Khan’s corruption?

Within days of sweeping to victory on six of the seven National Assembly seats, he had contested in the Oct 16 by-polls, former prime minister Imran Khan was disqualified from being chosen as or remaining a member of parliament under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Last Friday finally the much debated, much awaited by all the political gladiators in the political arena Toshakhana case verdict finally arrived. The Election Commission of Pakistan in its much-vaunted wisdom found Imran Khan guilty of corrupt practices & decided to disqualify him. There is no need for us to go into the merit of that judgment. In the coming days, the high court & the supreme court of Pakistan will guide us probably more according to the law to reach a conclusion about the judgment.

I had earlier written a piece where I opined that corruption (?) in Toshakhana is virtually impossible to commit for anyone such as Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif or Asif Zardari. The only legal anomaly that stands out is the few vehicles that came out of there as in accordance with the Toshakhana rules and regulations cars can not be purchased by recipients.

Read more: Imran Khan challenges disqualification in IHC

Understanding the matter better

However, after the verdict, a political narrative is being pushed that placed Imran Khan at par with Nawaz Sharif. The point being Nawaz Sharif was disqualified due to corruption and prima facie Imran Khan is being disqualified due to corruption. Corruption, whatever the amount involved, maybe a crime nonetheless. Though it is laughable for any intelligent human being to perceive the corruption of a watch as comparable to the corruption of billion of dollars of properties stashed abroad. But even then we can agree that corruption of one rupee can prove the intent and thus paint any person equally guilty.

Social Media has gone into overdrive & the cyber teams including the dormant ones handling groups and pages have started to demonize the so-called fact that Imran Khan has been convicted or disqualified for corruption. While it is understandable for political stakeholders to try to build a narrative to suit them, it is rather strange when we find some supposedly unrelated social media stakeholders pushing the fact with a lot of bias and venom.

We are, at best, political commentators and not political protagonists and thus cannot take sides even if our sympathy lies with a side we think is righteous. But it’s sure the other side also thinks that they are on the right. All we can do is put those facts forward which are non-controversial and accepted by all and then allow the readers to form their own conclusion. Let’s examine the facts.

It is accepted by all sides that Imran Khan followed the procedure and paid for the gifts that he had the option to buy. Whatever the percentage was, initially it was 15 % and then moved to 50 %. There is a procedure that is followed by Toshakana to deal with all the gifts as spelled out in my earlier submission. Actually even the case was not for any misappropriation of gifts from Toshakhana but for not declaring the gifts as per ECP laws. So the fact of the matter is that “NO THEFT HAS TAKEN PLACE”  and thus how can we portray or declare Imran Khan a thief? The institution trying Imran Khan is not alleging any theft but the political narrative is that theft has taken place, Boggles the mind.

Read more: Protests erupt across Pakistan after Imran Khan’s disqualification

The short order by the Election Commission of Pakistan writes that “ Imran Khan has been disqualified under article 63 (1) (P) for making incorrect declarations and false statements”. So where is the theft? He brought gifts that he had options to buy paying the amount prescribed under law as agreed by even the election commission of Pakistan. While there is no need to dissect the verdict reason and intent it clearly mentions procedural mistakes and not theft. Whether this order will stand up in court or not only time will tell. But even that order alleges procedural mistakes and does not dare to mention theft. While all segments of society have condemned Imran Khan’s choice of buying the gifts as morally questionable or not of the highest moral standard but none finds any legal problem with buying the gifts and thus again the million dollar question where is the theft?

The social media push is extraordinary

The usual suspects in social media, the people from all sides who are identified as cyber team members can be forgiven for making that push. Cyber teams, by the nature of their job, remain inflexible. They have to toe a line because they are bound to carry over the instructions from their paymasters. That is the reason that we find cyber team members falling back to abusing when they find no logical argument. This time this narrative has gone beyond cyber team members and all the dormant professionals have come into play.

Read more: Imran Khan files plea in SC seeking probe into PM House audio leaks

The penalizing institution, irrespective of their bias has penalized someone as not following the procedure but social media supposedly educated professionals saying no no that’s incorrect he has been convicted of theft. Prima facie looks innocent enough but on deeper reflection sinister motives can be detected. One it gives narrative bereft PMLN a narrative with minuscule acceptance and two while procedural mistakes might not activate the Sadiq and Ameen clause but theft definitely will. Maybe that’s why dormant cyber team members have been activated and taken the risk to blow their cover.


The author has worked for Unilever for 25 years. He is a professional translator/interpreter of five languages and is also a certified computer trainer. He is currently living in Virginia, USA. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.