The details of Toshakhana gifts record that has been made public by the incumbent government is quite interesting if not shocking.
The statement shows that prime minister Shahbaz Sharif is the only prime minister or chief minister who has not retained an ‘expensive’ gift.
President Asif Ali Zardari, took as many as 181 gifts during his (2008-13) tenure, Nawaz Sharif 55, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi 27, Imran Khan 112, and Pervez Musharraf 126. Prime ministers Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Shaukat Aziz, too, availed this privilege.
It is said that Zardari paid 10 percent or less for the gifts he took home; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took away nine gifts in 2017 and 18 in 2018.(the last year of PML-N government’s 2013-18 tenure) against payment of 10 to 20 percent assessed value.
Imran Khan has however turned out to be the only head of government or state who is accused of selling off Toshakhana gifts at a profit.
Needless to say, these details present a sardonic comment on our system and leaders that have been consistent in their refusal to recognise that ours is a poor country in terms of economic and social challenges.
Our successive governments’ failure to curtail and rein in current expenditure is one of the major reasons behind our fiscal woes that so often force the governments to seek assistance from global lenders to meet its external repayment requirements.
Abdul Salam (Karachi)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023