False: A photo shows people trying to flee Pakistan amid the ongoing economic crisis.

By: Chandan Borgohain
February 22 2023

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
False: A photo shows people trying to flee Pakistan amid the ongoing economic crisis.


The Verdict False

This is an old photograph from Afghanistan and is unrelated to the current economic crisis in Pakistan.

Claim ID 065fed9e


Pakistan is currently suffering an economic crisis; Reuters states that the country's current account deficit has shrunk 90 percent since last year, dropping to $0.2 billion in January 2023. It adds that since "artificial caps" were removed last month, Pakistan's currency has lost more than a quarter of its value against the U.S. dollar. An Express Tribune report published on February 22 cites figures from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showing that inflation hit 38.42 percent in the last week. Inflation is at a 48-year-high in the country, causing prices of essential commodities like wheat, rice, onions, and gas cylinders to rise dramatically, causing additional economic woes for citizens already facing shrinking incomes. Figures from the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, a government body that regulates the overseas employment of Pakistani citizens, show that in the last year, 832,339 Pakistanis left the country – the highest since 2016 and the third highest since 1971.

Amid this, a photograph showing a large crowd, with some seemingly carrying passports, has been circulating on social media. Several users shared the photo, claiming that it shows Pakistanis trying to flee the cash-strapped nation. We found many tweets, written in Hindi, claiming that because of the current financial situation in Pakistan, "those who have passports are trying to flee from the country."

In Fact

We conducted a reverse image search and found that it is not from the current economic crisis in Pakistan. 

A report published by CGTN (an English-language state-controlled media channel based in Beijing, China) on October 21, 2020, used the photo as its feature image, credited to Reuters. According to CGTN, the photograph showed an incident in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when thousands of people had gathered at a football stadium close to Pakistan's consulate to obtain their visas. The crowd was large as the service had recently resumed following its withdrawal during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report further stated that the situation spun out of control, resulting in the deaths of 11 people and the injuries of 13 others in the stampede that ensued. 

We also found the Reuters report that carried the viral photograph, as well as five other images from the stampede. According to the caption, the image showed Afghan men in Jalalabad waiting to collect the necessary tokens to apply for a Pakistan visa. The report added that tens of thousands of Afghanistan travel every year to Pakistan for medical treatment, education, and jobs. Reuters states 15 people were killed in the stampede and published a video report carrying the same visuals of the incident.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time, Imran Khan, also expressed his condolences in light of the tragic incident. On the day the incident had taken place, Khan shared a tweet expressing his grief, "Deeply saddened by the tragic deaths & casualties in a stampede in Jalalabad of Afghans wanting to get Pakistani visas. My condolences go to the victim's families & prayers for early recovery of the injured." 

The Verdict

The viral image is an old photograph from Afghanistan, from 2020, showing thousands of Afghans gathered to collect tokens to obtain visas to travel to Pakistan. The photograph has been incorrectly linked with the current economic crisis in Pakistan. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before