Cabinet Division was directed to provide list of all kinds of items/gifts lying in Tosha khana, list of items and donors, approximate value of these items, where these items are stationed/lying currently, number of complaints and inquiries of fraud/theft/lost/misappropriation/embezzlement regarding these gifted items currently underway and concluded in last 30 days.
Cabinet Division argued that requested information is sensitive as gifts are exchanged between the Heads of States and Heads of Governments to give personal touch to inter-state relations; and
Disclosure of such information could create media hype and resulted in unwarranted stories, thus potentially damaging the interest of Pakistan in the conduct of international relations and jeopardizing inter-state relations.
The commission held that while giving ‘personal touch’ to inter-state relations through the exchange of gifts between the Heads of States and Heads of Governments is a normal practice in the conduct of international relations, relations between any two states are dictated by common interests. At best, the ‘personal touch’ supplements but in no way can supplant the role of common interests in determining the outcome of inter-state relations. In short, it is change in the shared common interests between two states, and not the exchange of gifts for personal touch between Heads of States and Heads of Governments which has any qualitative impact on inter-state relations.
The commission also observed that it is not certified information but absence of certified information that contributes to ‘media hype’ and resulted in ‘unwarranted stories’, creating trust-deficit between citizens and public institutions. Certified requested information will dispel rumours about the reporting of the gifts to ‘Tosha ‘Khana’ by the public officials and their retention price and which elected representative or public official retained which gift at what price.
The commission maintained that when certified information about these gifts will be made available in the public domain for everyone to see, citizen of Pakistan will know that the gifts received on their behalf are being properly managed. Availability of the certified information about the gifts deposited in ‘Tosha Khana’ in public domain will not only make the entire process about the management of these gifts open and transparent, it will contribute to reducing trust-deficit between citizens and public institutions contributed by opacity and secretive ways of functioning of public institutions. Even citizens of the states on whose behalf gifts are received by our elected representatives and public officials will come to know that their gifts are properly managed, resultantly strengthening people-to-people and inter-state relations.