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Govt claims Rs984m spent on Imran’s helicopter expenses


Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has claimed that the federal government incurred Rs984.35 million helicopter expenses of former prime minister Imran Khan for his travel from Bani Gala to the PM Office when he was in power.

The newly appointed minister made these claims during a news conference on Thursday in which she also accused Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran of selling Toshakhana gifts for “pecuniary” benefits.

The PTI government was toppled through a no-confidence motion tabled against it in the National Assembly in which the opposition gained majority of 174 votes in the 342-strong house. Subsequently on April 11, new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was sworn in.

Read more: PM Imran’s helicopter trips cost ‘much more’ than being claimed: report

According to the documents detailing helicopter expenses released by the Ministry of Information, the travelling expenses amounted to Rs472.36 million while maintenance of the helicopter had cost more than the travel expenses – Rs511.995 million.

From August 2018 when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had come to power till December 2018, the then PM’s travelling expenditure stood at Rs37.93 million; in 2019, Rs131.94 million; 2020, Rs143.55 million; 2021, 123.8 million; and from January 2022 till March 2022, Rs35.14 million. The total flying hours clocked in at 2,726.

Similarly, the maintenance of the former prime minister’s helicopter came in at Rs173.5 million in fiscal year 2019-20, Rs204.22 million in FY2020-21, and Rs134.27 million in FY2021-22.

Addressing the media persons, Marriyum refuted the stance of Imran on the Toshakhana gifts, saying the articles might be retained but could not be sold for “pecuniary” benefits.

“As regards to Toshakhana, Imran has said ‘my gift, my choice’. Let me make it clear that the gifts belong to the prime minister of Pakistan, who can retain them but has no right to sell them in the markets,” she said.

Also read: PM Imran’s use of helicopter does not account for VIP culture: Fawad

Toshakhana is a department which keeps precious gifts received by the rulers, parliamentarians and others from heads of foreign government/state, and dignitaries as a goodwill gesture.

Marriyum said Imran, while being in power, retained the Toshakhana gifts at 20 per cent of their price, but sold them at four times higher in the markets.

He retained a total of 58 gifts, including cufflinks, a ring and others, worth Rs142 million. It also included the famous wrist watch, which alone was sold for Rs180 million. All the expensive items were retained by Imran prior to increase in the percentage price of the Toshakhana gifts from 20 to 50 per cent, she pointed out.

She said Imran’s income increased manifold due to selling of the Toshakhana gifts. The assets raised through the gifts’ sale were much more precious than his entire life’s income.

The increase in the income, she said, belied Imran’s narrative on the Toshakhana. “His deceit, hypocrisy and lies are fully exposed in front of the public.”

She accused Imran of misusing his authority for monetary benefits, saying that in the first two months of his government, he made Rs85 million through the Toshakhana gifts, and a total of Rs142 million in four years after retaining the 58 gifts.

The minister asked the PTI chairman to put the money trail of Toshakhana gifts before the nation which needed answers regarding his corruption while being in power.

On foreign funding, she said the Election Commission of Pakistan had formed a committee on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s funding, but the PTI failed to raise a single objection during its proceedings.

Likewise, the ECP itself did not raise any objection over the PML-N’s funding, nor the State Bank of Pakistan did issue a statement on the matter, she added.

Marriyum said action was being taken against those who were involved in the malicious campaign against the state institutions through robotic tweets.

The robotics tweets were being investigated and all the relevant authorities were making efforts to trace out the faceless tweeters, she added.

To a query, she said Imran, while addressing the party workers in Lahore later in the day, should better tell them about the bad governance in his government, which caused poverty, unemployment, inflation and increase massive debts.

It was the nation who would decide whom it would support – either those who were distributing certificates of sedition or those who were working for the country’s progress and development, she added.

The law would take its course where the authority was misused, she responded to another query. More ministers would take oath soon, she noted. “We have received information that some files were missing from the Prime Minister Office,” she said in response to another question.

(With input from APP)

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