BBC did not broadcast video report that ‘debunked’ 9 May protests
Viral video prepared by ‘RePakistan’ wrongly linked to BBC
Claim: The BBC produced and ran a video report debunking “the entire drama of 9 May”, when protests erupted in Pakistan over Imran Khan’s arrest. The video features footage from the demonstrations, identifies two individuals as state functionaries who fanned the flames, and asks key questions about what transpired that day.
Fact: The BBC never ran such a video report. The last slide of the video states it is “a RePakistan Special Report”, rendering the claim false. The clip also contains multiple errors, which are unlikely to have appeared in content produced by a reputable global media outlet.
On 4 October 2023, Soch Fact Check received a video on WhatsApp showing scenes from a riot, with text stating that questions had been raised over what transpired on 9 May 2023. It was accompanied by the following caption:
“نیوز BBC نے 9 مئی کے سارے ڈرامے کا جنازہ نکال دیا۔۔۔!!! بی بی سی کی یہ رپورٹ پوری دنیا میں دیکھی جا رہی ہے۔۔۔ (یہ 2023 ھے۔۔ 1971 نہیں کہ جو تم کہو گے دنیا یقین کر لے گی).”
[BBC News has debunked the entire drama of 9 May …!!! This BBC report is being watched all over the world. (It’s 2023.. not 1971 that the world will believe whatever you claim).]
The voiceover from the video has been reproduced below:
“After which the gates are open without any resistance. These two individuals are seen inviting the crowd inside the house. As the camera pans, we see that windows and doors of the house are already broken.
And who is this mysterious man which instigated the crowd to enter the house.
PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid can be clearly heard urging the crowd against from entering the house.
“Meherbani [karke] ghar kay andar Janay ki bilkul mat koshish kare, aap bahar ajaen saray. Hum protest karnay ae hain. [Please do not enter the [Corps Commander] house, all of you gather outside. We have come here to protest.]”
Then later at night the house was burnt down by mysterious individuals. So the May 9th ended raising many questions:
Why was the crowd not stopped at any of the checkpoints in the cantonment area?
Who ordered the removal of the multilayered security detail from the Corp Commander’s house?
Why was there no response from Quick Response Force and Garrison Security Force despite the fact the Corp Commanders house was under attack for many hours?
And finally and most importantly
Who benefits from the chaos?
Is it Imran Khan who wants elections or is it PDM government which is running away from elections?
Clearly there is enough evidence to suggest that May 9th was a false flag operation to create chaos and unleash massive crackdown on PTI workers, then PDM can delay elections indefinitely. It is clear that the PDM government is the main beneficiary of May 9th incident.”
Violent protests erupted (archive) across Pakistan on 9 May 2023 after Imran Khan — the former prime minister and chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — was arrested (archive) in the Al-Qadir Trust case. Khan and his wife allegedly “obtained billions of rupees and land worth hundreds of kanals from a real estate firm for legalising PKR 50 billion that was identified and returned to the country by the UK during the previous PTI government”, as per this report (archive).
Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Humayun Dilawar of an Islamabad trial court had ruled that the former premier’s “dishonesty has been established beyond doubt” in the Toshakhana case.
As per the short order cited here (archive), Khan hid “the benefits he accrued from the national exchequer wilfully and intentionally” and “cheated while providing information of gifts he obtained from Toshakhana, which later proved to be false and inaccurate” during his tenure from 2018 to 2022. The 70-year-old was given a three-year jail sentence but maintains his innocence.
Fact or Fiction?
In an email to Soch Fact Check, the BBC denied producing the footage or the voiceover in the viral video in question.
Soch Fact Check also identified multiple elements in the video that indicate it was not run by the BBC.
For starters, a logo with the text “RePakistan” appears in the top-right corner throughout the video.
Two TikTok handles are visible in the video, one of which is @aa_writes.khushab and appears from 0:05 to 0:37; the other, however, is not entirely clear, although it ends with the number 8500 and appears from 0:01 to 0:07.
The 0:50 mark features the sentence, “Please every one donot enter the house. Come out. We are here to protest only.” This has two grammatical errors — “donot” instead of “do not” and “every one” instead of “everyone”. Such glaring mistakes are unlikely to appear in a report published by the BBC.
Emojis appear between the 0:01 and 0:38 marks while arrows can be seen from 0:04 to 0:09 and from 0:17 to 0:22. The words “Pakistan First” appear in the video between the 0:00 and 0:01 marks and between the 0:38 and 0:44 marks.
The clip also features a tweet in the middle — from 0:44 to 0:58 — but no appropriate credit is provided as per the BBC’s conventional format of reporting.
The following text appears in subsequent slides in the video:
- “Why was the crowd not stopped at any of the check points in the cantonment area?”
- “Who ordered the removal of the security detail from the Core Commander’s house?”
- “Why was there no response from QRF and GSF despite the fact the core commanders house was under attack for many hours?”
- “Finally & Most Importantly”
- “Who benefits from the chaos?”
- “May 9th False Flag Event”
The aforementioned text has multiple grammatical errors, of which the most glaring one is the spelling of the place that was attacked: the “core commanders house”. The BBC mentions it as “corps commander’s residence” here, “military corps commander’s house” here, and “Corps Commander House” here.
Most importantly, the last slide states the video is “a RePakistan Special Report”, thereby refuting the claim that it was made or run by the BBC.
The words “Quick Response Force,” “Garrison Security Force,” “PDM government,” “false flag operation,” “main beneficiary of May 9th incident,” and “May 9th False Flag Event” also seem to stray from the BBC’s conventional style of reporting.
“PDM”, the Pakistan Democratic Movement, was formed by various opposition parties in 2020 during former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tenure. It was never an electoral coalition, but rather a movement aimed at removing Khan from power. Khan and some PTI leaders have accused the PDM of working with the Pakistan military to oust him.
It is further unlikely that the BBC would take a decisive political stance, such as informally stating that the PDM “is running away from elections,” or that “clearly there is enough evidence to suggest that May 9th was a false flag operation to create chaos and unleash massive crackdown on PTI workers,” or that it is “clear that the PDM government is the main beneficiary of May 9th incident”.
The clips used in the viral video are indeed from the 9 May 2023 protest, however, the video report was not published by the BBC.
“Chairman Imran Khan repeatedly demanded an independent investigation of the 9th May arson. He reiterated his stance that a was a false flag operation that has since been used as a pretext to launch a crackdown against PTI and trample on all fundamental human and civil rights. This video proves how 9th May false flag operation was in fact a conspiracy against PTI. #PTISMT”
We were able to trace the same video further back to 4 June 2023 when it was shared by ARY News anchorperson Sabir Shakir.
Soch Fact Check also came across this 31 May 2023 tweet (archive), which includes the hashtag “#May9th_FalseFlag” and carries a similar video claiming to show that a “conspiracy” has been “revealed” that shows the PTI was “targeted”. It is captioned as follows:
“9 مئی بہانہ ہے PTI نشانہ ہے۔ کیونکہ ہم نے دیکھا کس طرح 9مئی کے واقعات کو بنیاد بنا کر پی ٹی آئی کو شدید نقصان پہنچانے کی کوشش کی گئی ٹریپ کیا گیا اب یہ شازش کھول کر سامنے آ چکی ہے قوم سب جانتی ہے اتنا سب کچھ صرف خان کے لئے اسلئے کیونکہ وہ واقعی عظیم لیڈر ہے ۔
[May 9 is an excuse, PTI is the target. Because we have seen how the May 9 incidents were used as a basis to try to do serious damage to the PTI. Now this conspiracy has been revealed. The nation is aware of everything. All this for Khan only because he is really a great leader.]”
“Highly recommendable.. Repakistan Special Report on 9th May,2023 . Everyone should watch this report to know how falsely this propaganda going on. Sir, Action speaks louder than words..n your actions speak loudly. @ImranKhanPTI is a name of institution.”
Interestingly, screenshots from the video identifying a moustached man, encircled in red, were circulated on social media platforms on 19 May 2023 — just 10 days after the protests on 9 May — indicating that the viral clip in question existed in May 2023 as well.
X account @EPropoganda1 posted a link on 20 May to what it claimed was the Facebook profile (archive) of the man in question, Muhammad Imran Mehboob. While a cursory comparison does indicate that he is the same individual, we were unable to verify it independently. We did, however, come across a tweet containing a news report that identified him by the same name.
Therefore, we rate the claim as false.
Soch Fact Check found that X account @ChotiSheikhni — that has over 61,000 followers — posted the same video, which has gained more than 146,000 views, 7,200 reposts (formerly retweets), 8,200 likes, and 70 comments as of writing time.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the period between 1 May 2023 and 26 October 2023 using the search term, “نیوز BBC نے 9 مئی کے سارے ڈرامے کا جنازہ نکال دیا.” We found close to 300 Facebook posts that garnered over 28,000 interactions.
Conclusion: The BBC never ran a video report debunking the 9 May protests. The last slide of the clip clearly accredits the video as “a RePakistan Special Report”, proving that the BBC did not originally produce the report. The clip also contains multiple errors, which do not conform to the general, neutral style of reporting produced by a reputable, global media outlet like the BBC.
Background image in cover photo: PTIOfficial
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