Explained: Imran Khan Niazi Has Been Barred From Holding Public Office, Why?

Explained: Imran Khan Niazi Has Been Barred From Holding Public Office, Why?

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 23, 2022 12:30 AM +05:30 IST
Explained: Imran Khan Niazi Has Been Barred From Holding Public Office, Why?Imran Khan Niazi

Pakistan's ex-PM Imran Khan Niazi has been barred from holding public office for 5 years, thanks to Pakistan's election commission. The former PM has claimed that the case is politically motivated. It is important to keep in mind that the former PM is quite popular in Pakistan. His party recently won the majority of seats in by-elections. 

So why exactly has the former PM been barred from holding public office? Well, like Watergate is a name people in America remember, the word Toshakhana case is on the lips of most people in Pakistan. 

The former PM apparently did not accurately disclose all the presents he received from foreign dignitaries, which he reportedly sold to pocket some money in his own pocket.

The assets include things like rings and cufflinks. Ring and cufflinks. He as Pakistan's PM received them and then instead of depositing them to the Toshakhana, which is the norm in most countries, kept it and then sold it.

One is reminded of an old episode from 'Yes Minister', at least in that episode, the bureaucrats were not selling the gifts and keeping it for personal use. 

The former PM"s lawyers have said that they will challenge the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) verdict in the high court. "Faisal Chaudhry, a lawyer in Mr Khan's team, has told Reuters news agency the election commission tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter and that the decision will be challenged," as per a report by the BBC.

The former PM “deliberately concealed the material facts by not disclosing the details of gifts in the statement of his assets and liabilities… nor accounting for the sale proceeds," reads a statement by ECP.

Niazi told his supporters to come out on the streets and protest, claiming that democracy has died in Pakistan. An odd claim for multiple reasons. 

Niazi's supporters did come out in significant numbers and protest. Near Islamabad, the police had to use tear gas to disperse the protestors. Reports indicate that the former PM has now called on his supporters to end the protest. 

According to reports in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, the written ruling says that the former PM "made false statements [sic] and incorrect declarations before the commission in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by him for the year 2020-21," which led to his disqualification. 

He is no longer a member of Pakistan's national assembly as the ruling adds that Niazi  "ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat has become vacant accordingly."

The decision was taken by a 5 member panel and it was unanimous. The former PM hisself admitted in September that he had sold at least four of the gifts he had received during his tenure as PM, claiming that the income from selling these gifts was included in his income tax returns. 

According to Pakistan's law, as per the news agency AFP,  "government officials must declare all gifts, but are allowed to keep those below a certain value. In some cases, the recipient can buy them back at around 50 per cent."

Niazi claims that he did not disclose some gift on "national security grounds". Yes, "national security grounds". 

The former PM was removed from power back in April after a no-confidence vote was initiated against him, which he lost. He was elected as PM back in 2018 but got into a rift with the Pakistan's Army.

As Voltaire said about Prussia, “where some states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state," the same applies to the Pakistani's army, although it is not as competent as the Prussian army.

Getting in the cross hairs of Pakistan's army has never ended well for any politician in Pakistan. Khan started criticizing the Pak army, sometimes rather accurately and factually, in a manner no other Pakistani politician has done.

What is worth watching now is this - will he be able to return to power? Or will he lose steam? 

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