Pak’s ruling elite kept official gifts worth billions, paid pennies for some

Prominent Pakistani personalities who didn’t deposit gifts in the official Toshkhana include incumbent President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif himself.

| Updated: 13 March, 2023 8:59 pm IST
Pakistani PMs who paid fraction of the original value of gifts they received include Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

Pakistan’s elite, including PMs, presidents, ministers, bureaucrats and their families, retained gifts worth as little as PKR 150 to millions –received in their official capacity, causing losses in billions to common Pakistanis.

According to a list released by the Pakistan government, top politicians from across parties did not deposit the gifts received during their tenure to Toshkhana or the treasury as mandated by Pakistani laws.

In a country where corruption and embezzlement have been public issues for a long time, its ruling class retained their official gifts by paying only a fraction of the article’s original value.

The list, made public on the instructions of PM Shahbaz Sharif, provides details of gifts retained by the Pakistani ruling class between 2002 and 2023.

Prominent Pakistani personalities who didn’t deposit gifts in the official Toshkhana include incumbent President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif himself.

Other top leaders on the list are former PMs Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Shaukat Aziz, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Zafarullah Khan Jamali, and former president Asif Ali Zardari, and late military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, finance minister Ishaq Dar, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Khursheed Kasuri, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Jehangir Tarin, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Dr Attaur Rehman have also been featured in the list.

As per documents accessed by The New Indian, these politicians and bureaucrats kept a majority of official gifts they received but paid nothing to the government.

As per the list, gifts worth PKR 26.05 million were given to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. In 2004, he received gifts valued at more than PKR 6.5 million. He also received a watch worth PKR 5 lakh in 2005.

He also received dozens of valuable watches, jewellery boxes, and other gifts, which he had retained after paying the required amount. Musharraf’s wife, Sehba Musharraf, received a jewellery box valued at over PKR 2.6 million in 2003.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari retained gifts worth PKR 138.85 million, the documents show. In January 2009, Zardari received two BMW cars – one costing PKR 57.8 million and the other PKR 27.3 million. He later received Toyota Lexus worth PKR 50 million. However, he paid only PKR 20.1 million for the three cars against their cumulative value of PKR 134 million.

In March 2011, Zardari retained a watch valued at PKR 1 million after paying PKR 158,250 for it. In June 2011, he retained a Corum wristwatch worth PKR 1.25 million but paid only PKR 1.8 lakh.

Similarly, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his immediate family retained gifts worth PKR 122.37 million. He retained a Mercedes Benz valued at PKR 4.2 million in 2008 but paid only PKR 6.3 lakh. In 2013, he retained a Rolex wristwatch costing PKR 1.18 million after paying PKR 243,000.

Sharif kept a Piaget wristwatch valued at PKR 1 million in January 2015 after paying PKR 240,000. In January 2016, he retained a Christopher Claret watch costing PKR 2 million, a ring valued at PKR 19.5 million and a pair of cufflinks valued at PKR 16 million after paying PKR 7.6 million for them. His wife Kulsoom Nawaz retained a bracelet worth PKR 12.7 million and a necklace with earrings valued at PKR 41.6 million after paying PKR 10.8 million.

Ousted PM Imran Khan, who is already facing a case for allegedly buying gifts at deeply discounted prices and selling them for profit, along with his wife Bushra Bibi did not deposit gifts worth PKR 130.8 million with the Pakistan government.

In 2018, he retained a Graff wristwatch worth PKR 85 million, a pair of cufflinks valuing PKR 5.6 million, a pen worth PKR 1.5 million and a ring costing PKR 8.75 million. He paid only PKR 20 million for all these gifts.

In October 2018, he retained a Rolex watch, valued at PKR 3.8 million, after paying PKR 754,000. He kept another Rolex watch worth PKR 1.5 million in the same month after paying PKR 294,000. In November 2018, Imran retained another Rolex wristwatch costing PKR 900,000 after paying PKR 338,600.

In October 2019, he retained a watch valued at PKR 1.9 million, after paying just PKR 9.3 lakhs. In September 2020, Imran retained another Rolex watch, valued at PKR 4.4 million, after paying PKR 2.4 million.

In the same month, his wife Bushra Bibi also kept a necklace valued at PKR 10 million, a bracelet worth PKR 2.4 million, a ring costing PKR 2.8 million and a pair of earrings assessed at PKR 1.85 million after paying PKR 9 million.

Another former Pakistan PM Shahid Khan Abbasi and his wife retained gifts worth a total of PKR 174.05 million. He retained a Hublot wristwatch worth PKR 15 million, a pair of cufflinks costing PKR1.2 million, a pen worth PKR 1.5 million, a ring valued at PKR 3 million and prayer beads worth PKR1.85 million in October 2017 after paying PKR 4.5 million. His wife Sameena Shahid also retained a jewellery set worth PKR 99 million after paying PKR 19.99 million.

President Dr Arif Alvi’s wife, Samina Alvi, retained a necklace worth Rs1.19 million in October 2019 after paying PKR 8.6 lakhs. Alvi himself kept a Rolex watch costing PKR 2.5 million in February 2022 after paying PKR 1.2 million.

The list excludes the names of Army Generals and judges who also have retained state gifts. PTI has demanded that the list of generals and judges should also be made public.

“I believe that the idea of sacred doctrine should come to an end in Pakistan and with politicians, the gifts of judges and senior army officials including generals should also be disclosed,” said PTI spokesperson Fawad Choudhary.

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