Footage has circulated since 2021 in posts about a protest by Pakistani civil servants

·2 min read

Footage has been viewed tens of thousands of times in social media posts that claim it shows Pakistan's capital Islamabad blanketed in tear gas in May 2022. The posts spread online after clashes between police and supporters of the country's ousted prime minister Imran Khan in the capital and other cities. However, the footage has been shared in a false context. It has circulated online since at least February 2021, when local media reported that tear gas was used to disperse government employees demanding pay rises.

The clip shows an urban area blanketed in white smoke.

"Morning begins in Islamabad and terrible tear gas shelling," reads the caption alongside the 32-second video shared in a Facebook post on May 26, 2022.

Screenshot of the false post, taken on June 2, 2022

 

It circulated on the same day Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan led thousands of supporters to Islamabad demanding the government call elections or face more protests.

There were confrontations with the police, and tear gas was used in the capital, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was removed as the country's premier in a no-confidence vote in April and has since railed against his ouster, which he insists was orchestrated by the United States and his opponents.

The same clip was viewed more than 1,000 times alongside a similar claim on Facebook here.

A video containing almost all of the same footage was viewed more than 58,000 times in a tweet shared by senior PTI leader Shahbaz Gill.

However, the video has been shared in a false context.

Civil servants' protest

A reverse image search found the video posted on Twitter here on February 10, 2021.

"#Islamabad D Chowk right now #EmployeesProtest," the English-language tweet reads.

"D-Chowk" is an area of the capital close to several government institutions.

Below is a screenshot comparison of scenes in the false posts (left) and scenes from the video shared in 2021 (right):

Screenshot comparison.

A keyword search found similar scenes at the 28-second mark of this report from February 10, 2021 by Pakistan-based media outlet Dunya News.

"Today, Islamabad and its surrounding red zone area became a battlefield where Islamabad's police and government workers faced off," the anchor says in Urdu language at the one-minute mark.

Below is a screenshot of the report at this point:

Screenshot from the Dunya News report. Taken on June 2, 2022.

  

A report by Pakistan-based media outlet Samaa TV published on February 10, 2021 included part of the clip shared in the misleading posts at its 40-minute 21-second mark.

The report included a discussion on government workers' wages.

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