Islamabad, 3 February 2023 (GNP): In the past, the Toshakhana was a real structure where enormous valuables were kept. Presently, it mainly functions as a government division that reports to the cabinet division and monitors gifts provided to Pakistani officials by diplomats and world leaders.
Toshakhana, which was established in 1974, is a department under the administrative jurisdiction of the Cabinet Division and houses priceless gifts given to lawmakers, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other countries, states, and foreign dignitaries as a sign of respect. From gold-plated trinkets, pricey artworks, bulletproof cars, watches, jewelry, rugs, and swords, it contains riches.
Also Read: Peshawar mosque bomber wore police uniform- IG
The Toshakhana’s existence is a highly common practice in international diplomacy. There is a tradition of gift exchanging whenever two heads of state meet. However, in the majority of democracies, these gifts are regarded as belonging to the state and are accepted by individuals on behalf of the nation. As a result, they are either kept in state homes, vaults, and museums or sold at auction.
The administration of the Toshakhan has historically been a point of dispute in Pakistan. Imran Khan, a former prime minister, is currently mired in claims that the Toshakhana had irregularities while he was in office.
They might receive gifts. Foreign ministry representatives stationed at the embassy of the country the leader is visiting gather and record these presents. For all ministers, ambassadors, and military officers, the same procedure is used.
Things start to become a little complicated at this point. It is against the law for public officials, with the exception of the President and Prime Minister, to purchase presents for themselves or their families from other countries.
A present can be kept by the recipient for free if it is worth less than Rs 30,000.
According to the rules and regulations, gifts that are more expensive must be put in Toshakhana. But an official is also permitted to retain these presents if he pays a specific proportion of the cost determined by the Toshakhana assessment panel.
The members of this committee are representatives from the FBR, the central bank, and industry professionals. Prior to 2020, the president, prime minister, and a select group of other officials were permitted to keep gifts by paying the Toshakhana 20% of their value. However, it was still necessary to declare the receipt and submit it to the Toshakhana before paying the price as determined by the evaluation committee.
Read Also: Pakistan’s Inflation rate all time high
The public office holder is in charge of informing the Cabinet Division of the gifts they have received. According to the document, all gifts, regardless of their cost, must be disclosed and filed with the Cabinet Division. The paper also forewarns of “appropriate action” against those discovered to have concealed or neglected to disclose information.
Of course, it’s possible that a leader won’t want to keep or pay to keep the goods they’ve been given. In this instance, the Toshakhan assesses and values these presents. The person who got the present has the first right to keep it, but if not, it can either be sold at auction or kept for government use, depending on the type of gift.
Gifts that have been placed in the Toshakhana and are suitable for display must be carefully cataloged before being put on display at eminent government-owned buildings and institutions, as well as in the official residences of the head of state or head of government.
For instance, the president may have lavish carpets installed in a state reception room in the Palace of the President. The same is true for displaying paintings or other types of art in museums or other suitable government structures. In the meantime, gifts like cars should be added to the cabinet divisions’ common vehicle pool.
Then, gifts that cannot be shown will be put up for auction. Military and civic officers have the first right of auction. A public auction is then performed for any items that don’t sell at this location as well.