ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday disqualified PTI chief Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference till the end of the current National Assembly’s (NA) term under Article 63(1)(p) for misdeclaration.
Article 63 (1) (p) of the Constitution states that an individual is, “for the time being, disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) or of a provincial assembly under any law for the time being in force”.
As such, Imran has been de-seated as a member of the NA and by-polls will now be held on the seat vacated following his disqualification.
The written verdict is yet to be issued.
A four-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, announced the verdict at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad.
The decision was taken unanimously by the five-member bench. However, the member from Punjab was not present for today’s announcement.
According to the verdict, criminal proceedings will be initiated against Imran for misdeclaration.
The reference was filed in August against Imran by the coalition government, for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale. Lawmakers from the Pakistan Democratic Movement the ruling alliance had submitted the reference to National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who had subsequently forwarded it to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja for further action.
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.
However, the PTI, while in government, had been reluctant to disclose details of the gifts presented to Imran since he assumed office in 2018, maintaining that doing so would jeopardise international ties, even as the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) ordered it to do so.
But later, in a written reply submitted to the ECP on September 8, Imran had admitted to selling at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the prime minister.
The former premier, in his reply, had maintained that the sale of the gifts that he had procured from the state treasury after paying Rs21.56 million fetched about Rs58m. One of the gifts included a graff wristwatch, a pair of cuff links, an expensive pen and a ring while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches.
Soon after the verdict was announced, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, speaking to the media outside the ECP, asked the public to come out of their homes “for their rights”.
He called the ECP’s ruling a “slap on the face of 220 million people” and said, “Today is the beginning of the revolution”.
“Not just anyone cannot disqualify Imran Khan. Only the public can do that,” the PTI leader said.
He alleged that today’s verdict was “written by Nawaz Sharif and signed by his servants”.
“People disapprove of this decision.”
Alongside him, PTI leader Shahbaz Gill said the PTI would approach “every forum” against the verdict. “Imran has been disqualified from just one seat, not politics,” he added.
Prior to the ECP’s announcement, television footage showed PTI leaders climbing over the gate to reach the commission’s secretariat.
Strict security measures were in place at the ECP’s office ahead of the ruling on Friday, with police, Rangers and Frontier Corps personnel deployed on site in large numbers.
Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon also visited the office to review security arrangements.
On Thursday, the ECP sent a letter to Islamabad police, requesting “foolproof security” inside and outside the watchdog’s premises for the full day in order to “avoid any untoward incident”. The letter also requested that two security personnel in civil dress and a traffic warden be provided as well.
The ECP stressed that all necessary security arrangements be completed, particularly inside the ECP secretariat’s building, and the matter was treated as “most urgent”.