ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Tuesday announced to indict former prime minister Imran Khan on February 7 in a case that led to his disqualification by the country’s top election body last year which found him guilty of making “false statements and incorrect declarations” after receiving gifts from various international leaders.
The Toshakhana – or state repository for gifts – reference against Khan gained momentum after the downfall of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration in a parliamentary no-confidence vote last April.
Members of the current government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to expedite the proceedings before Khan was disqualified under Article 63 of the Constitution.
According to local media reports, an additional sessions court in Islamabad announced to frame charges against the former prime minister in the coming week after his lawyer and the ECP counsel appeared before it and presented their arguments.
“District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal heard the case and fixed February 7 (Tuesday) as the indictment date,” The Express Tribune said. “The former premier was also ordered to pay a bond of Rs20,000.”
The case involves accusations against Khan for misusing his position as prime minister to purchase and sell gifts received during state visits abroad that were worth over Rs140 million – or $5.4 million.
A major charge was that he had also failed to declare some of the earnings in his annual statements of assets submitted before the election commission.
Khan’s disqualification was followed by protests in different parts of the country, though the situation did not deter some local media outlets to continue their investigation into the issue.
Pakistan’s private news channel Geo TV interviewed a Dubai-based businessman Umar Farooq Zahoor who said he had paid Khan $2 million to buy a watch the ex-premier had received after he went to Saudi Arabia on an official trip in 2018.
The account presented by the channel contradicted the ex-premier’s narrative who has consistently claimed innocence in the case while pointing out that all receipts and records regarding the gifts and their sales were already present in the Toshakhana.
Khan subsequently filed a defamation case against the media house and the UAE-based businessman. However, the reference against him has been taken up by the court after the ECP referred the matter to the judiciary in its ruling last October.