Politik-tok The infamous watches of Toshakhana.

The record of Toshakhana gifts made public by the government earlier this month, in partial compliance of a Lahore High Court order, shows that our public office holders have an unmistakable fondness for wrist watches.

From politicians to bureaucrats to military personnel, it appears almost everyone succumbed to the allure of luxury watches, among the many other shiny objects, they received as gifts from foreign dignitaries during official engagements at home and abroad.

Although the gifts our officials received include a host of of articles ranging from jewellery to antiques to luxury cars to weapons, in this piece we focus on the watches politicians from the three major parties have bagged since 2008 for two reasons:

Firstly, even a cursory reading of the record shows that watches were among the most gifted items, with a total of 1,262 watches (including pocket and table watches) appearing in the Toshakhana records since 2002.

Secondly, and more importantly, over the last many months, much before the court order mandating the entire Toshakhana record be made public, details of luxury watches retained and later sold by former premier Imran Khan were leaked to some media outlets and this story occupied the country's airwaves, making headlines in broadcast and print media.

Imran is currently also facing corruption investigations by the National Accountability Bureau for bagging watches worth millions of rupees. The incumbent government and its many ministers, meanwhile, appeared regularly on television screens to claim that the PTI chief was a 'ghari chor' (watch thief) who misused his power to profit from Toshakhana gifts.

As it turned out, official records reveal that many of those aboard the 'ghari chor' bandwagon retained watches from the Toshakhana themselves, and that this practice was rampant across political parties.

Given this recent fixation with watches in the country's political narrative, and its legal ramifications for some, we thought it would be interesting to compare the last three governments, each led by one of the three biggest political parties in the country, and their relationships with the watches of Toshakhana.

The process was tiresome to say the least, because the data released by the government was in PDF format, and there were thousands of entries on hundreds of pages. In some cases, only the recipient's designation (say, defence minister of Pakistan) was written and so we had to do our own research to confirm who...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT