On January 19, the government expressed its concerns about Toshakhana gifts before the Lahore High Court (LHC). They stated that the publication of such items could result in ‘unnecessary media hype.’ They fear this could damage interests of Pakistan in terms of international relations.
The proceedings were presided over by LHC Justice Asim Hafeez, with Additional Attorney General Nasar Ahmed representing the government.
The Toshakhana was established in 1974. It is a department under the administrative jurisdiction of the Cabinet Division. It stores presents that foreign dignitaries and heads of other governments have given to rulers, lawmakers, bureaucrats, and officials. The petition was filed in December 2022 by a man named Munir Ahmad.
Read more: Imran Khan Pleas to LHC Suspend Notice of ECP Seeking His Removal as Party Head
What are the rules:
As per Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other similar items received must be reported to the Cabinet Division.
The government claimed that “The Right of Access to Information (RTI) Act, 2017” also exempted from disclosure information that related to “a person’s personal privacy, information declared as classified by the minister-in-charge of the federal government, and information whose disclosure may harm Pakistan’s interests in the conduct of international relations”
The Prime Ministers’ Office:
In contrast, the PMO reportedly established an inter-ministerial team to draft a new Toshakhana policy. They want to base it on best practises, openness, and transparency principles.
The government responded by stating that when the Inter-Ministerial Committee was formed, the Prime Minister’s Office wanted to retain information confidentiality in accordance with current SOPs until a new policy was developed.
The coalition government filed a complaint against Imran in August, 2022 for failing to list the proceeds from the sale of state gifts in his assets. Even though the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) ordered the PTI to do so, the party resisted to disclose the information.
Leave a Reply