Old video of weeping Pakistan minister doctored to add 'thief' chant

·3 min read

A video viewed millions of times in Facebook and TikTok posts appears to show Pakistan's Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb weeping while a crowd chants "thief" and "traitor" at her. The posts claim the footage was taken at a rally in May 2022 by Aurangzeb's Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party. However, the video has been doctored to add the chants. The original clip was filmed in 2018 and shows Aurangzeb's reaction to leaders of her party being released from jail. The audio was taken from another video that shows Aurangzeb with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's delegation in Saudi Arabia in April 2022.

The video was viewed more than 3.3 million times in a TikTok post published on May 29, 2022.

"The public gave a good welcome to Marriyum Aurangzeb today at the Bahawalpur rally," reads Urdu-language text superimposed on the clip.

The footage appears to show Pakistan's Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb making her way through a crowd while chants of "thief" and "traitor" ring out.

A logo for Pakistani media outlet Samaa News is visible in the top right-hand corner.

Screenshot of the false post taken on June 6, 2022.

The video circulated one day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party held a rally in the city of Bahawalpur.

Sharif came to power in April after his predecessor Imran Khan, a cricket star turned populist politician, was booted from office in a vote of no-confidence.

Khan responded to his ouster by staging mass rallies across Pakistan -- which often feature chants of "thief" and "traitor" directed at government officials -- to pressure the country's fragile new coalition government.

The TikTok appears to suggest that locals in Bahawalpur support Khan over the PML-N.

The video was viewed more than one million times after it was shared in similar posts on Facebook here, here and here.

However, the footage is from 2018 and has been doctored to add the chants.

Leaders' release from jail

A keyword search found Samaa News posted a longer version of the video on Facebook on September 19, 2018.

The Urdu-language post translates as: "After the court decision, Marriyum Aurangzeb wept tears of joy".

That day, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif -- who is Shehbaz's brother and former prime minister -- was released from prison along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar after a court suspended their sentences in an anti-graft case.

The clip of Aurangzeb crying does not contain the chants heard in the video in the false posts.

Below is a screenshot comparing the footage in the false posts (left) with the clip from Samaa News (right):

Screenshot comparison taken on June 6, 2022.

Local media outlet ARY News also published the footage in a report about Sharif's release from prison.

A news chyron visible at the report's six-second mark reads in Urdu language: "Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Captain Safdar's prison sentences suspended".

Bogus chants

A keyword search for the chants heard in the doctored video found matching audio in a report about a group who accosted Shehbaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia after Khan was ousted.

"A group of people violated the sanctity of the Masjid-e-Nabvi in Medina by chanting slogans against PM Shehbaz and his delegation," Pakistan-based newspaper The News International reported on April 29, 2022.

The audio in the doctored footage can be heard from the video's 29-second mark.

Aurangzeb was also present during the trip and can be seen in the video walking through a crowd as people chant "thief" and "traitor".

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