Pakistani pastor’s interview about 2023 Jaranwala rampage falsely shared with divisive spin

Pastor was speaking about attack on Christian community over blasphemy claims


Claim: A viral video shows a Pakistani pastor speaking about and condemning the 2023 Jaranwala rampage. The woman in the clip is the daughter of the Pakistani fighter pilot and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat. The claim adds that she has given other interviews, in which she said she is proud of how her father fought against Hindus and that she is the descendant of Indian Christians from Punjab who migrated to Pakistan. Lastly, the claim urges people not to show sympathy to Christians in Pakistan “as it is their karma to pay for their deeds”.

Fact: The video shows Pakistani minority rights activist Pastor Ghazala Shafique, who is not the daughter of the late Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat.

On 17 August 2023, Facebook user ‘R.D. Amrute’ posted (archive) a video showing a Pakistani pastor speaking about the Jaranwala rampage that occurred in Pakistan on 16 August.

The accompanying caption has been reproduced as follows:

Churches burning in Porkistan
पाकिस्तानी ईसाई पादरी के इस वायरल वीडियो ⬇️ के बारे में कुछ संदर्भ…
यह पाकिस्तान वायु सेना के एक सम्मानित लड़ाकू पायलट विंग कमांडर मर्विन लेस्ली मिडलकोट की बेटी हैं। जिन्होंने भारत के खिलाफ 1965 और 1971 के युद्ध में लड़ाई लड़ी।
कई इंटरव्यूज में इसने बताया कि उन्हें इस बात पर गर्व है कि उनके पिता ने हिंदुओं के खिलाफ कैसे लड़ाई लड़ी!
Now-कुछ ऐतिहासिक संदर्भ:
स्वतंत्रता से पहले, भारतीय ईसाइयों ने पाकिस्तान के निर्माण का भारी समर्थन किया था, पंजाब से कई लोग पाकिस्तान चले भी गए थे लेकिन आज उनका अस्तित्व लगभग समाप्त हो गया है, फिर भी वे हिंदुओं के खिलाफ जहर उगलना बंद नहीं करते हैं! (This is religious logic)
भारत में ईसाई आबादी खूब फली-फूली है और देखा जाये तो वे वस्तुतः हमारी शिक्षा प्रणाली को नियंत्रित करते हैं। भारत में आये दिन गंदे शब्दों, पैसों और जालसाजी का प्रयोग करते हुए वे हिंदुओं का धर्म परिवर्तन कराते रहते हैं।
लेकिन… आज वह रो रही है और पाकिस्तानी मुसलमानों से बाइबिल जलाने, चर्चों को नष्ट करने और ईसाइयों के खिलाफ हिंसा रोकने की भीख मांग रही है! (सत्य सामने है!)
फिर भी, नीचता देखिये की इस इंटरव्यू में, वह खामख्वाह ही भारत के नाम को इसमें खींच लेती है और कह रही है कि पाकिस्तान दूसरा मणिपुर न बन जाए! (Christian mentality)
याद रखें, चाहे कुछ भी हो, ईसाई समुदाय हिंदुओं को हेय दृष्टि से देखता है। यह उनके church system में ही है (जैसे मादर/सों में मलेच्छ बच्चों को हिन्दुओं के बारे मे सिखाया जाता है)। हम सबसे पुराने और सबसे मजबूत समुदाय हैं इसलिए हमें नष्ट करना इन लोगों का सदियों से सपना रहा है। हम सभी को परिवर्तित करने में उनकी असमर्थता ने उन्हें बहुत बुरी तरह आहत किया है।
इसलिए मेरे हिन्दू / सनातनी भाइयो, इन्हें इनके हाल पर ही छोड़ दो, हमें कोई सहानुभूति नहीं दिखानी है।
अपने कर्मों का भुगतान करना उनका कर्म है।
– Hriday S. Singh Parihar

Translated to English, it reads as follows:

Churches burning in Pakistan
Some context about this viral video ⬇️ of Pakistani Christian Pastor…
She is the daughter of Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecott, a respected fighter pilot of the Pakistan Air Force. Who fought against India in the 1965 and 1971 wars.
In many interviews it has been told that he is proud of how his father fought against Hindus!
Now-some historical context:
Before independence, Indian Christians heavily supported the creation of Pakistan, many even migrated from Punjab to Pakistan but today they are almost non-existent, still they don’t stop spewing venom against Hindus! (This is religious logic).
The Christian population in India has flourished and they virtually control our education system. They keep on converting Hindus by using dirty words, money and forgery in India.
But… today she is crying and begging Pakistani Muslims to stop burning Bibles, destroying churches and violence against Christians! (The truth is out there!)
Still, see the despicability that in this interview, she silently drags the name of India in it and is saying that Pakistan should not become another Manipur! (Christian mentality).
Remember, no matter what, Hindus are looked down upon by the Christian community. It is in their church system only (like the Malech children are taught about Hindus in Mother/Son). We are the oldest and strongest community so destroying us has been the dream of these people for centuries. His inability to convert all of us has hurt him very badly.
That’s why my Hindu / Sanatani brothers, leave them in their condition, we don’t have to show any sympathy.
It is their duty to pay for their deeds.
– Hriday S. Singh Parihar

According to a 16 August Al Jazeera report (archive), large mobs of Muslims went on a rampage in the Jaranwala city of Faisalabad, located in Pakistan’s Punjab province, after “torn pages of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, were discovered near the Christian colony with alleged blasphemous content written on them”.

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Church of Pakistan wrote (archive) on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, “Bibles have been desecrated and Christians have been tortured and harassed having been falsely accused of violating the Holy Quran.”

A number of churches in the area were attacked, with the BBC (archive) reporting that over a 100 suspects were arrested following the Jaranwala rampage.

Fact or Fiction?

A cursory search revealed the video was first posted by BBC journalist Riaz Sohail here (archive) on X, where he captioned it as follows:

“فیصل آباد  حملے کے خلاف کراچی میں سول سوسائیٹی کا احتجاج ، پاکستان کو کیوں انڈیا بنایا جارہا ہے ، پاسٹر غزالا شفیق کا سوال
[Protest by civil society in Karachi against the Faisalabad attack, why is Pakistan being made into India, Pastor Ghazala Shafique’s question]”

In the video, Pastor Shafique can be heard saying:

[Inaudible] are being desecrated, our holy books being desecrated, our lives in Pakistan made hell by levelling false allegations. An old church located at the main road there [in Jaranwala] was set on fire. Hundreds of Bibles have been set ablaze. People have chased out of their homes, rendering them homeless, looting happening there, the office of an AC [assistant commissioner] — who is a Christian — has been burnt down. Where do we go? Are we not Pakistanis? Why are you making Pakistan into India? Why is what’s taking place in Manipur happening in Pakistan?

The Christian community leader also posted a screen recording of Riaz’s video from Twitter on her official, verified Facebook page here.

A video from a press conference organised by the Minority Rights March at the Karachi Press Club corroborates that the clip in question shows Pastor Shafique.

‘Absolutely wrong and baseless’

Soch Fact Check also spoke with the pastor, who said:

“My name is Pastor Ghazala Shafique, I’m from Karachi. These days, false rumours about me — that I’m the daughter of Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat — are being spread on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and on different social media handles. This is absolutely wrong and baseless. Mervyn Leslie is a very honoured and respected wing commander but I have nothing to do with him.

“My father was a civilian and had no connection to the military. And I would really appreciate it if those who propagate such baseless reports checked their facts and do not needlessly promote hatred and class differences and clashes. My intention was to express sadness at this violence [in Jaranwala]. Thank you,” she said.

For comparison, below are pictures of Pastor Shafique and Lesley Ann Middlecoat, the daughter of PAF Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat.

This article (archive) contains a childhood picture of Lesley Ann with her father, and these two videos — here and here — show her on a Pakistani TV programme in 2015.


Soch Fact Check found the video posted here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook.

On X, it was shared by user @arunpudur and gained over 442,000 views, 2,600 reposts (formerly retweets), and 5,500 likes.

Conclusion: The video shows Pakistani minority rights activist Pastor Ghazala Shafique, who is not the daughter of the late Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat.

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