By: Ishita Goel
February 9 2024
Social media posts claim that the video shows PTI Sher Afzal Khan Marwat announcing his party's decision to boycott polls in Pakistan. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)
A fake voiceover was added to PTI Senior VP Sher Afzal Marwat's video to claim his party decided to boycott the general elections in Pakistan.
What is the claim?
In the run-up to the elections in Pakistan that concluded on February 8, several false and misleading claims inundated social media. A purported audio clip of jailed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan surfaced just a day before the polls. It claimed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader had said his party was boycotting the election.
Following this, a video of PTI Senior Vice-President Sher Afzal Khan Marwat was also shared online with captions suggesting that he supported Khan's decision and that their party had decided to boycott the polls. Sharing the clip, one social media user wrote: "Responding to Imran's voice, Sher Afzal Marwat has also announced an election boycott. The election was over." Another user wrote, "Sher Afzal Marwat also started running away from the elections. Tehreek-e-Insaf candidates continued to boycott the elections. So far, 5 major candidates have boycotted." Archived versions of these posts can be viewed here and here. In the viral clip, we can hear Marwat saying in Urdu that his party and he stood with Khan's (Imran Khan) decision to boycott the 2024 elections.
Screenshots of the viral posts on social media. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)
However, Marwat's video is from January and has been digitally manipulated to include a fake voiceover and falsely claim that PTI decided to boycott the polls. Logically Facts also found that the viral audio clip of Imran Khan shared to make similar claims had several anomalies indicating it was fake.
What are the facts?
A close look at the viral video shows several discrepancies, suggesting that the clip was digitally manipulated. For instance, the audio in the clip is entirely out of sync with Marwat's lip movements.
Through reverse image search, we also found Marwat's original video. Pakistani news websites Suchai News and Qudrat News had posted the original clip on January 29 on their YouTube channels. According to these video reports, Marwat made an appeal to the voters to support PTI candidates contesting independently. In the original video, he asked people to vote for PTI candidate Syed Ali Bukhari, who was allotted the parachute symbol in the polls.
We also matched Marwat's head movements in the viral clip and the video shared by Suchai News. Marwat briefly looks down in the viral clip at the 0:04 timestamp, and this same movement is captured in the Suchai News video around the 0:01 timecode. This comparison indicates that a fake voiceover was added to the original clip to falsely claim that Marwat 'supported' Imran Khan's purported decision to boycott elections.
Comparison of viral clip and the video report shared by Suchai News. (Source: X/YouTube/Modified by Logically Facts)
Aamir Masood Mughal, regional president of PTI Islamabad and central deputy secretary of Information of PTI, had also posted a video of Marwat's statement on January 29, where we can see the latter donning the same attire from the viral clip. The post was captioned, "Statement of @sherafzalmarwat about Aamir Mughal Candidate for Constituency NA46#."
Sidra Hijazi, information secretary of PTI in London and the election campaigner for Sher Afzal Khan Marwat, clarified on social media on February 8, that the viral clips of the PTI leaders deciding to boycott the polls were fake. In a post in Urdu, she said that Marwat's video had been edited and added that he and Imran Khan were not boycotting the elections.
Pakistani journalist Naveed Akbar also confirmed to Logically Facts that PTI contested the February 8 polls.
Another journalist from Pakistan, Lubna Naqvi, told us that the viral clip had "been doctored with a voiceover and AI lipsyncing. The original voiceover is echoing. This indicates it's fake."
Naqvi also directed us to a report published by The Express Tribune on January 17. According to the report, Marwat had called off PTI's election drive in Sindh province three weeks before the elections, alleging he was attacked by party leaders Raoof Hasan and Hamid Khan. However, Marwat reversed this decision later and said he would continue campaigning.
An old video of Marwat's appeal to vote for PTI candidates has been digitally edited and shared with a fake voiceover to falsely claim his party had decided to boycott the Pakistan elections.