Imran, his wife Bushra jailed for 14 years in Toshakhana corruption case

US calls Imran Khan’s imprisonment sentence matter for Pakistan’s courts

Accountability Court also disqualifies the former ruling couple for 10 years besides a fine of Rs1.57b n Bushra arrested, shifted to Bani Gala residence after declaring it sub-jail n PTI rejects verdict, vows to challenge in superior court.

RAWALPINDI, ISLAMABAD  -   A day after the punishment announced in the cipher case, the PTI founding chairman Imran Khan and his wife Bushra were awarded 14-year rigorous imprisonment in the Toshakhana reference.

Accountability court’s Judge Muhammad Bashir announced the verdict during the hearing at the Adiala Jail, also disqualifying the former prime minister for 10 years while handing over a fine of Rs1.57 billion — Rs787 million each — to the couple.

The case revolves around the illegal acquirement and sale of precious gifts received from various foreign states, which are stored in the state-run treasury called Toshakhana. During Wednesday’s hearing, the PTI exchairman was produced before the judge who asked him about his statement under Section 342, as he marked his attendance while his wife skipped the hearing. In his reply, the accused, who is already convicted in the cipher case, said it was in his cell as he had been presented only to record his attendance.

“Submit your reply immediately. Don’t waste the court time,” the accountability court judge ordered after the PTI founder’s response. However, the former head of his party questioned the reason behind the haste. “I have been deceived as I was only called to mark my attendance for the hearing,” said the PTI founder.

As he left the courtroom for the prison cell, he said his defence counsel hadn’t arrived yet and the document would be sent only after consulting them. Soon after the case verdict announcement, Bushra was arrested upon the court’s verdict and taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team at Adiala Jail. Later, she was shifted to the residence of Imran Khan in Bani Gala which was declared sub-jail.

A notification by Islamabad Chief Commissioner Rana Waqas declared Imran’s Bani Gala residence as a sub-jail for Bushra. The notification was issued following a request by Adiala Jail’s superintendent. NAB had filed the reference against the duo over the graff jewellery set which included necklaces, earrings, bracelets and a ring worth Rs1.57 billion. Khan and Bushra had only paid Rs9 million and had fixed the price of the jewellery set through a private firm. On Tuesday, the PTI founder and his close associate Shah Mehmood Qureshi were sentenced to 10-year rigorous imprisonment in the cipher case, as the special court established under the Official Secrets Act announced its verdict in the keenly-observed episode. 

The Toshakhana has been under a microscope ever since the emergence of the allegations that Khan purchased the gifts he received as prime minister at throwaway rates and sold them off in the open market for staggering profits. The 70-yearold 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. 

Moreover, seven wristwatches, six made by watchmaker Rolex, and the most expensive a “Master Graff limited edition” valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees ($385,000), were also among the gifts. A reference was forwarded by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf to the Election Commission asking it to probe the matter. The electoral body then declared the former premier guilty of corrupt practices and filed a complaint in an Islamabad court. 

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan termed the verdict “cruel”, saying that the accountability court has never given such a decision in the past. “[Other politicians] are being punished to please a leader,” he said, adding that the court did not allow the cross-examination. Barrister Gohar said that they will file an appeal in the high court against the verdict. He added that Bushra had nothing to do with the case as she did not take any gifts personally. 

“Bushra has been sentenced to pressurise PTI founder and our right to defend has also been abrogated,” he said, hoping justice will be served by the superior courts. Gohar further asked the PTI supporters to remain calm, saying that the punishment would end. “We will participate in the elections,” he added. PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan in a statement also strongly rejected the sentence awarded in a “baseless, concocted and fabricated” case. He added that the decision would be challenged in the high court without loss of time. “Toshakhana verdict is a premeditated, draconian and fraudulent decision which has no parallel in the annals of jurisprudence anywhere in the world.” 


Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) disposed of Bushra Bibi’s petition seeking dismissal of the plea filed by her ex-husband Khawar Maneka against the fraudulent marriage between her and Imran Khan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition moved by Bushra Bibi and announced its reserved judgment in Iddat case. Justice Aamer said in the order that the petitioners have been indicted and the high court cannot interfere in the trial process after indictment. Through the instant petition, the petitioner challenged the order dated 11.12.2023, passed by Senior Civil Judge-II, East-Islamabad, whereby complaint filed by respondent No.2 was admitted and process under Section 204 Cr.P.C. has been issued against the petitioner to face trial, as well as order dated 11.01.2024, passed by Additional Sessions Judge-V, East-Islamabad, whereby revision filed by the petitioner was dismissed.

During the hearing, PTI lawyer Salman Akram Raja adopted the stance that the case was only aimed at humiliating the petitioners. 

He mentioned that the complaint against Imran’s marriage was filed five years and 11 months after the nikkah in November 2023. After hearing the arguments, the IHC bench reserved its decision on the petition. Meanwhile, the United States Tuesday sidestepped comments on the 10-year sentence awarded to ex-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief, Imran Khan, for leaking state secrets -- known as “cipher case”, saying it was a matter for the Pakistani courts. “It is a legal matter ultimately for Pakistan’s courts,” State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller told reporters at his daily press briefing while responding to. series of questions.

“We have been following the cases ... brought against the former prime minister but I don’t have any comment on the sentencing,” Miller said. “As we have stated consistently, we continue to call for the respect of democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law in Pakistan, as we do around the world,” he added. Questioned about Khan’s sentencing, Miller reiterated that the prosecution of the former prime minister was a legal matter, and the State Department would defer to Pakistani courts regarding such matters. 

However, he stressed the importance of a democratic process that allows broad participation and respects democratic principles.

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