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British-Pakistani did not fly to Pakistan to vote for PTI in by-elections

The twitter user made a sarcastic post about flying to vote for PTI

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Claim: Diaspora Pakistani Sarim Rashid flew out to Pakistan from the UK to cast a vote for PTI in the October 2022 by-elections. He flew in just in time for the elections and flew out three hours later back to the UK.

Fact: Sarim Rashid did not fly to Pakistan on 16 October to cast a vote for PTI in the by -elections. He sarcastically posted a tweet claiming to do so.

Fact or Fiction?

On 16 October 2022, Sarim Rashid tweeted, “Reached in time from UK to Pakistan to cast my vote for Bat [PTI’s electoral symbol]. Now back to UK in 3 hours. Watan ki matti gawah rehna [soil of the homeland stands as a witness]”. The image posted in the tweet shows a Pakistani ID card, ballot slip and thumb marked with election ink. Rashid posted the tweet as a joke, which he expressed the following day when he tweeted, “This tweet just proves how People get RTs on twitter. Never ever get impressed by number of retweets, followers or anything.”

The image in Sarim Rashid’s tweet showing a Pakistani ID card, ballot slip and thumb marked with election ink

Even in replies to the initial tweet on the same day, Rashid responded sarcastically, playing along with the joke, expressing shock at how viral the tweet has become, and implicitly admitting that it is a joke. In response to a reply exclaiming, “Lol and people are actually believing you”, he replied “Thats how Twitter works”.  Yet, multiple sites picked up the claim and shared them across different social media platforms without verification.

Soch Fact Check spoke to Rashid, who said he took the image from another tweet. Rashid also expressed that “it is stupid how people retweet without seeing anything”.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 30-day period since 3 October to 2 November using the following search term:

  • UK to Pakistan to cast my vote for Bat. Now back to UK in 3 hours

The search turned up 9,975 interactions across 17 posts on Facebook and 31,560 interactions across seven posts on Instagram.  The false claim was shared on Instagram by FHM Pakistan, a media/news content page with two million followers. It was also shared by Pakistan Republic, Dekhlo, and Pakistan Tribune. It was also shared on Instagram here, here, and here. The claim was shared on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

The original tweet gained 26,300 likes, 373 quote tweets and 4,294 retweets. It was also shared on Twitter here with a headline that translated to English reads: “Who is the man who came to Pakistan specifically to vote for the bat?” Another tweet reads “… He came to Pakistan in the morning just to cast vote and now back to UK in the evening. This is a nightmare for neutrals.”

Conclusion: Dual national Sarim Rashid did not come to Pakistan for one day to cast a vote for PTI. Rashid sarcastically claimed to do so in a tweet that went viral without verification. 

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