Monday, December 11, 2023

IHC queries Govt’s PM Imran Khan gift secrecy

As reported by a private news channel, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) questioned the administration on Wednesday about its unwillingness to divulge information of gifts given to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

An application in this regard had previously been accepted by the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), which had directed the Cabinet Division to ‘provide the requested information about the gifts received by Prime Minister Imran Khan from foreign heads of state, heads of government, and other foreign dignitaries…description/specification of each gift, information about the gifts retained by the prime minister.

According to the Cabinet Division’s position before the Public Information Commission, this matter did not fall within the scope of the Right to Access to Information Act, 2017, and therefore could not be disclosed.

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According to the government, the information could not be requisitioned under the Access to Information Act because the information had been declared ‘classified/secret’ in a letter dated April 4, 1993, which declared the details of Toshakhana as such.

In response to the query, “Are you going to be able to share [information] about the gifts you brought to Prime Minister Imran Khan, or are you not?” Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb asked.

The judge stated that certain items, such as defense-related gifts, may not be disclosed, but he questioned why the restriction on disclosing details applied to all gifts in general. In the case of a necklace gifted by another country, “what’s the harm in making it public?” says the judge.

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Judge said that gifts received by rulers belonged to the nation rather than to the rulers themselves, and he questioned whether public officeholders would even receive gifts if the position of public office did not exist.

The government’s representative at the hearing requested additional time to respond, and the court granted the request, adjourning the hearing for a period of two weeks.

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