Imran Khan ‘Evades’ Arrest: What is Toshakhana Case Against Him, and the ‘Dirty Harry’ He Fears?

A team of Islamabad police on Sunday reached Lahore residence of ousted prime minister Imran Khan to arrest him in the Toshakhana case, but returned after assurance from his legal team that he will appear before the court on March 7. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said there is no mention of “arrest” in the warrants as an Islamabad sessions court has asked him to appear before it on March 7 in the Toshakhana case.

ALSO READ | ‘Theat Against My Life’: Imran Khan Seeks Security Over ‘Another Assassination Attempt’

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned politician, who has been recovering from a gunshot injury from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has thrice skipped indictment hearings in the case.

But What is the Toshakhana Case and Why Does Pak Police Want to Arrest Khan?

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.

As per a report by Indian Express, the Toshakhana controversy resurfaced in August 2022, when the coalition government, led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), filed a case against Imran, alleging that he failed to disclose information on gifts given to Toshakhana as well as the proceeds from the “illegal” sale of some of the gifts.

Toshakhana is a department under the administrative jurisdiction of the Cabinet Division that preserves presents and other expensive objects received by public authorities, the report explains. It was established in 1974 and is mandatory for officials to declare gifts and other such materials received to the Cabinet Division, according to its rules, it adds.

However, when Imran came to power in 2018, he refused to reveal details of the numerous gifts he received throughout his tenure, claiming that doing so would jeopardise relations with other countries, the report says.

Following that, the former prime minister issued a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) admitting to selling at least four such gifts but also claiming to have purchased them from the government for a percentage of their value. The Saudi crown prince had given him a Graff watch, as well as Rolex watches, exquisite cufflinks, a rare pen, and a ring.

Who is Dirty Harry?

The court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Khan last week and adjourned the hearing till March 7 for his repeated failure to appear before the court.

The Prime Minister’s special assistant on interior Attaullah Tarar told reporters that the Islamabad police went to Khan’s residence to deliver a notice to him to appear before a court in the Toshakhana case on March 7 when he will be indicted in the case.

“Today Imran Khan locked himself in a room in Zaman Park. Khan’s chief of staff Shibli Faraz said he wasn’t at home when the Islamabad police came to deliver a court’s notice. But Khan later appeared from his house addressing the party workers,” Tarar said.

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, react ahead of his arrival at the district High Court in Lahore, Pakistan February 20, 2023. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

A large number of PTI workers reached the Zaman Park following the news of his possible arrest. “Arrest of Imran Khan is our red line and we will not allow this,” PTI senior leader Shafqat Mahmood said.

TV footage showed police officials in Islamabad Police uniforms as well as Punjab Police being held back by Khan’s supporters outside his residence. As the Islamabad police were present outside his residence to deliver the court’s order, Khan was speaking at the gathering of those workers arrested in ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest movement) at his residence.

Khan claimed “they” wanted to kill him while on the way to his court appearance. “They have made yet another plan to kill me during a court appearance,” he alleged.

“I will write to the chief justice of Pakistan telling him that 74 false cases have been registered against me. I have a threat to my life from those who are supposed to protect me,” he said, in an indirect reference to the establishment.

“Take an example of criminals like (Prime Minister) Shehbaz Sharif and (Interior Minister) Rana Sanaullah who were involved in killing people and an attempt on his life (in Wazirabad in November last year) ” he said.

Khan also named “Dirty Harry’, a reference to a top ISI officer, for brutal torture of his party leaders and social media activists. “Dirty Harry is a psychopath. He is a sick man. There is a threat to my life from such people,” he said.

As per reports, Khan’s ‘Dirty Harry’ reference is for ISI director-general Nadeem Anjum. The term comes from a 1970s classic criminal thriller film about a San Francisco police investigator, “Dirty Harry Callahan,” who takes vengeance into his own hands while understanding his legal responsibilities.

Callahan is seen as a renegade member of the police force and is frequently at clashes with his superiors, who object to his methods. According to the protagonist, he is known as Dirty Harry because he is given “any nasty assignment that comes along.”

What Next?

After Khan’s presence at his residence was confirmed by way of his speech, Islamabad police said action would be taken against Senator Faraz for ‘misrepresenting facts’ in the way of legal action.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told reporters that Khan is filing a protective bail petition in the Lahore High Court in the attack on Islamabad judicial complex.

Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.

Since his ouster, Khan has been clamouring for immediate elections to oust what he termed was an “imported government” led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once the parliament completes its five-year tenure.

With inputs from PTI

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