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Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government told the Lahore High Court on Thursday that disclosing the Toshakhana (state depository) gifts could lead to “unnecessary media publicity” and “harm Pakistan’s interest in maintaining international relations”. ”
Months after accusing former Prime Minister Imran Khan of concealing such gifts and complaining to the Election Commission, he has reversed course in the High Court.
The Shahbaz Sharif-led PML(N) coalition government has objected to its report before a single bench of the High Court hearing a plea seeking declassification of Toshakhana Uphaar records. The petition was filed last month by a citizen, Muneer Ahmed. Ahmed argued that the common man has a right to have such information about public officials in a democratic country. Therefore, the details of the gifts received by people holding public positions should also be made public.
The Toshakhana, administered by the Cabinet Division, is a repository that serves to maintain, preserve and store gifts received by public functionaries. The policy attracted media attention after former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan was accused of concealing details of gifts received during his tenure.
The government’s three-page reply to the High Court on Thursday stated: “The Prime Minister’s Office vide its circular dated 26-11-2015 has kept the information relating to Toshakhana gifts confidential as disclosure of such information would lead to unnecessary media There could be propaganda, which could be potentially detrimental to Pakistan’s interests in the conduct of international relations.”
Please tell that this is the second U-turn of the Prime Minister’s Office of Pakistan within a week. In the same week, the Prime Minister of Pakistan first indicated talks with India in a TV interview, then after a few hours, the Pakistani PMO clarified that the PM’s words were misinterpreted. Pakistan cannot hold talks with India until Articles 370 and 35A are restored in Jammu and Kashmir.