A priceless gift list. Data declassified over the weekend by the Pakistani government reveals the low-cost luxury goods enjoyed by members of the political and administrative elite since 2002. In Pakistan, government officials, parliamentarians and some senior administrative officials must declare all gifts received but are allowed to keep the least expensive ones. However, they can also acquire the most expensive gifts with a steep discount.
Records show that former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who died in February, kept a pearl necklace worth $250 in 2006 paying just 750 rupees, or just 11 euros under the exchange rate at the time.
Rolex, BMW, Toyota SUV...
Former President Asif Ali Zardari received three armored vehicles two years after his wife Benazir Bhutto, the first woman in the modern era to lead a Muslim country, was killed in a suicide bombing in 2007. The Toyota SUV and the two BMWs were worth about $1.6 million but Asif Ali Zardari had paid the equivalent of only $240,000 to keep them.
The 21-carat gold crown, worth $500, was acquired in 2005 for nearly a tenth of its value by Shaukat Aziz, then prime minister. Like the dozens of other people on this list – which does not detail donors – former Prime Minister Imran Khan seized the opportunity to buy in 2018 for about $ 6,000 a Rolex estimated at nearly $ 32,000.
New limit in preparation
On Tuesday, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced that the government would introduce a new limit stipulating that gifts worth more than $300 (280 euros) could no longer be bought back and kept by their recipients. In many countries, diplomatic gifts are seen as a symbolic exchange between cultures rather than goods intended for specific people.
Imran Khan, who was toppled in April 2022 by a no-confidence motion but remains very popular, is accused in court of failing to declare all diplomatic gifts received under his tenure and earning money by selling some of them.