Pak foreign minister hands over costly gifts presented by Saudi Prince to authorities
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presented expensive gifts worth over Rs 63 lakh to Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, including a Rolex wrist watch, when he visited the cash-rich Kingdom in September, 2018, it emerged Wednesday. The details of the Saudi gifts worth Rs 6,350,000 to Qureshi were released by Pakistan's Foreign Office, days ahead of Crown Prince Salman's high-profile visit here.
Pakistani media, quoting Foriegn Office (FO) documents, reported that Qureshi deposited gifts worth millions of rupees received from Crown Prince Salman in the Toshakhana (gift depository). The documents dated January 9 and 10 state that the gifts were given to the foreign minister during Prime Minster Imran Khan's visit on September 19, 2018.
According to the documents obtained by DawnNewsTV, Qureshi had received a Rolex watch, a gold pen embedded with gems, a pair of gold cuff links, a gold-chain rosary (tasbeeh) inlaid with precious gems, and a gold ring. The total value of the gifts, assessed by an approved appraiser, amounts to Rs 6,350,000, it said.
While the Rolex watch was worth Rs 4,850,000 million, the gold pen with gems was estimated to be worth Rs 950,000. The gold cuff links was costing Rs 135,000, rosary Rs 205,000 and the gold ring was worth Rs 210,000. "The foreign minister has desired that the Toshakhana may retain [the gifts] and the sale proceeds may be deposited in the government treasury, as per prescribed procedure," one of the FO document states.
Gifts are routinely exchanged between heads of states or officers holding constitutional positions on the eve of a state visit. According to Toshakhana rules, these gifts remain the property of the state unless sold at an open auction. If the original recipient wants to retain the present, they have to pay a fee determined by the Cabinet Division. In the past, leaders have paid as little as 15 per cent of the assessed value of a gift, Dawn reported.
A list presented to the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat in 2019 revealed that only 447 of the 3,486 gifts received by state representatives (from presidents down to deputy secretaries) during foreign visits were deposited in the gift depository. The rest were retained by the receivers after paying a meagre amount or free of cost, the report said.
A member of the committee at the time told Dawn that the list contained the names of former President Asif Ali Zardari, former presidents Rafiq Tarar and Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif, Mir Zafarullah Jamali and Shaukat Aziz and a number of top bureaucrats and officials. Earlier, Pakistan announced that Saudi Crown Prince Salman will arrive in Islamabad on Saturday on a two-day visit during which a number of agreements worth billions of dollars investment in the country would be signed.
Salman, who is also the Gulf Kingdom's vice president of the council of ministers and defence minister, will arrive here on February 16 on his first state visit to Pakistan since his elevation to the position of the crown prince in April 2017, the Foreign Office said. He is also scheduled to visit India from February 19.
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