ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: A district and sessions court in Islamabad is all set to resume hearing the Toshakhana case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman (PTI) Imran Khan today (Saturday) amid a high security alert in place in the federal capital.
Khan has left for Islamabad from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore to appear before the court in the Toshakhana case, according to an update shared on PTI’s official Twitter handle.
The Toshakhana case will be heard today in courtroom number 1 of the judicial complex in G-11 of the federal capital. Additional sessions judge Zafar Iqbal has summoned Imran Khan to indict him.
The sessions court had set a date to indict Imran Khan on January 31. Over Khan’s continuous absence from court, the sessions court issued his non-bailable arrest warrant on February 28. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the arrest warrant on March 7 and ordered Khan to appear in court on March 13.
Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant was then reinstated after he failed to appear on March 13.
The session court had issued an arrest warrant for Imran Khan for March 18 and ordered him to be produced before the court. The Islamabad High Court suspended the warrant on March 17 and ordered Imran Khan to appear today.
Meanwhile, a day earlier, the Islamabad chief commissioner had shifted the Toshakhana case hearing from the katchehri to the judicial complex due to security concerns.
Security on high alert in Islamabad
Ahead of Imran Khan’s arrival at Islamabad’s judicial complex, the area has been put on high security to ensure law and order and avoid any untoward situations — as happened last month.
In line with PTI’s insistence that Khan’s life is in danger and he needs security, Islamabad Chief Commissioner Noorul Amin Mengal shifted the hearing from F-8 Court Complex to the judicial complex in G-11 as a “one-time dispensation”.
When Khan came to the judicial complex last month, security arrangements were disrupted as PTI workers removed all barriers during their party chief’s appearances in the different courts. On the occasion, some of the workers vandalised the building and undermined the decorum of the courts.
In a statement, the Islamabad police’s spokesperson said that Section 144 (ban on public gatherings and display of weapons) has been imposed in the federal capital.
Private companies, security guards, and individuals have been prohibited from carrying weapons, the spokesperson said, asking the citizens to carry necessary documents — including car ownership — while travelling.
For the traffic plan, the police asked the citizens to avoid unnecessary travel from Sector G-11/1 and G-10/1, the spokesperson, said, adding that citizens should also cooperate with police during checking.
To ensure security, the police have also placed containers around the judicial complex.
What is the Toshakhana case?
Under the rules governing “Toshakhana” — a Persian word meaning “treasure house” — government officials can keep gifts if they have a low worth, while they must pay a dramatically reduced fee to the government for extravagant items.
The Toshakhana is under the microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Imran Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits.
In October last year, the former prime minister was barred from holding public office after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) found him guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries and heads of state.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his 2018 to 2022 premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than Rs140 million ($635,000).
The gifts included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials, who have alleged previously that Khan’s aides sold them in Dubai.
The gifts included seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000).
The election commission’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.
Following the order, the election watchdog moved the Islamabad sessions court and sought criminal proceedings against him — and the PTI chief has missed several hearings.