False: Photo shows a huge crowd gathered outside Lahore airport to welcome PML-N leader Maryam Sharif back to Pakistan.

By: Rajini KG
February 8 2023

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False: Photo shows a huge crowd gathered outside Lahore airport to welcome PML-N leader Maryam Sharif back to Pakistan.


The Verdict False

An image from 2018 of people from Central American nations walking toward the U.S. border has been mistakenly linked to Sharif's return to Pakistan.

Claim ID a588517d


Senior vice-president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz returned to Pakistan on January 28, 2023, after nearly a four-month stay in London. Following the arrival of the leader, who is also the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, an image shared with a tweet mocking her popularity among Pakistani people gained much traction on Twitter, especially from those who support her political opponents. The tweet, shared first by one Kashif Baloch (who is a self-professed “fan" of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan), came just as Nawaz kicked off her election campaign for the upcoming polls in Punjab, whose provincial assembly was dissolved last month. However, even though the tweet sharing the photo is a clear sarcastic dig at Nawaz, many people on Twitter have come to believe it to be an actual photograph taken when tons of people gathered outside Lahore airport to welcome Nawaz back to Pakistan and shared it on their accounts. 

In Fact

Kashif Baloch's tweet shared a photo showing a huge number of people flooding the roads with the caption: “Millions of people flocked towards Lahore Airport to welcome the video queen (translated from Urdu)." Many leaders from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and party supporters refer to Maryam Nawaz as the “video queen” following a controversy over the latter allegedly sharing a deepfake video in May 2022. Baloch’s tweet, shared on January 28, 2023, was aimed at mocking Nawaz. After many on Twitter failed to pick up the sarcasm and genuinely believed the photo to be from Lahore, Baloch put out another tweet the same day, clarifying that he had tweeted the image only to taunt Nawaz. This makes it clear that the photo was not taken when Maryam Nawaz returned to Pakistan.

To find out where the picture was actually taken, Logically examined the viral image through the InVid tool's image magnifier and found that the flags that people in the photo are holding a blue and white colored flag with a star at its center. It is the national flag of Honduras, a country in Central America. Further, through a reverse image search, we found that the image dates back to October 2018. Buzzfeed News had published the same image in a report published on October 21, 2018. The image was captioned: "The scene Sunday in southern Mexico." News agency Reuters was credited for the photo.

We then traced the image back to Reuters, who had published the photo on October 21, 2018. It was titled, "Central American migrants walk along the highway near the border with Guatemala, as they continue their journey trying to reach the U.S., in Tapachula, Mexico October 21, 2018." The viral image is a slightly enlarged version of the Reuters photo and evidently is from Mexico and not Pakistan. Reuters has many similar images taken from different angles of the march as well.

Gulf News and Diario Sur, a Spanish news website, also used the same image in their news reports. Most of those who joined the caravan in October 2018 were from Honduras, although hundreds of others who joined the rally came from El Salvador and Guatemala. According to reports, lack of food, unemployment, and violence in some people's native countries prompted them to leave their homes for the United States.

Additionally, Pakistani news channel Dawn News uploaded the visuals of Maryam Nawaz's arrival in Pakistan on its YouTube channel on January 28, 2023. The video depicts a huge crowd outside Lahore airport holding Pakistan flags and banners bearing her photos and those of party members. The pictures and video shared by the official Twitter handle of PML(N) also show tall buildings and cutouts of party officials surroundings the crowds. These visuals are starkly different from the now-viral image.

The Verdict

An old image of people from Central American nations walking toward the United States through Mexico was misinterpreted as people gathered to welcome Maryam Nawaz's visit at the Lahore airport after a tweet taunting the politician shared the photo. Therefore, we mark this claim false.

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