ISLAMABAD: Family members of politicians, bureaucrats and retired generals pocketed foreign gifts worth over Rs260 million from Toshakhana, either for free or after making paltry payments amounting to Rs56.7m over the past 20 years, according to the details released by the government.

A careful review of the 446-page document reveals that a sizeable number of family members of these public office holders were among those who collected precious gifts from the Toshsakhana after depositing a meagre amount in the national exchequer.

Of the top 10 figures whose families kept the most expensive gifts in terms of value, four — Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Nawaz Sharif, Mamnoon Hussain and Ahsan Iqbal — belong to PML-N.

The family members of PTI chairman Imran Khan, President Dr Arif Alvi, former premier Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and ex-premier Shaukat Aziz, besides Maj Gen Waseem Iftikhar Cheema, former military secretary to the prime minister, are among the beneficiaries.

Four out of the top 10 personalities whose family members retained Toshakhana gifts belong to ruling PML-N

The list shows that family members of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi top the list as they retained gifts worth Rs123.4m after depositing Rs24.6m in the national kitty. Besides the wife of Mr Abbasi, his two sons — Nadir Khaqan Abbasi and Abdullah Khaqan Abbasi — also retained two wristwatches with the collective worth of Rs22.5m after paying merely Rs4.48m.

Ex-president Mamnoon Hussain’s family members — wife, daughter and son — retained gifts worth Rs31.1m by paying only Rs6.2m for them, according to the record. In June 2015, the then first lady obtained “one necklace, one pair of earrings, a bracelet and a ring”, all made of gold and diamond, which were valued at Rs29.9m for which she paid Rs5.8m only. Only a month ago, she had got a similar set of jewellery worth Rs1.92m and paid only Rs216,482.

Similarly, Sehba Musharraf, the wife of Gen Musharraf, kept foreign gifts worth Rs22.9m with her by paying only Rs3.43m. She collected jewellery worth Rs2.63m by paying Rs393,658 in 2003 whereas in April 2007, she again retained a jewellery set, a bracelet and earrings worth Rs14.8m after paying Rs2.2m. In 2008, she got gold and diamond jewellery set and blue sapphire valuing Rs3.7m but paid Rs560,025.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi collected a necklace, earrings, bracelet and a ring worth Rs18m from Toshakhana after paying Rs9.3m.

PPP’s Gilani, whose wife, two sons and one daughter have been shown to have retained foreign gifts worth Rs2.33m, paid only Rs342,243 for them.

So far, first lady Samina Alvi has taken away gifts valuing Rs1.83m after paying Rs890,500. Among them, the most precious gift was a jewellery set containing “necklace, pair of earrings and one box containing shield worth Rs1.76m” after depositing Rs865,000.

The wife of Maj Gen Waseem Iftikhar Cheema, former MS to the PM, also pocketed gifts worth Rs1.44m after paying Rs507,146 only. Mr Che­ema is also among those bureaucrats who rec­eived many expensive gifts during their tenure and retained them.

The wife of PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, according to the official list, retained a wristwatch whose price has been mentioned as Rs775,000 after paying Rs149,000 only. She received the gift in 2018 when her spouse was serving as interior minister of Pakistan.

The wife of ex-PM Shaukat Aziz has perhaps retained most of the gifts in terms of number, but their total worth comes around only Rs688,040. He deposited Rs69,509 for the gifts his wife had retained.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2023

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