Fake letter to Imran Khan linked to Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa

Letter claims Gen Bajwa acknowledged ‘all 190 martyrs of Noshki and Panjgur’

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Claim: In a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to 190 soldiers martyred during a four-day battle in the Noshki and Panjgur areas of Balochistan, requested a pay raise for the Frontier Corps (FC) and Rangers personnel, and asked for proper compensation for the martyrs’ families.

Fact: The letter is forged and has no link to General Bajwa.

On 10 February 2022, Facebook user ‘ظہیر ابدال’ shared the photo of a letter allegedly sent by Pakistan Army chief General Bajwa to Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding “all 190 martyrs of Noshki and Panjgur”.

Soch Fact Check received a link to the Facebook post for verification.

The caption of the post in question includes references to: the expenses incurred by the Pakistan Army in connection with the soldiers martyred during combat; the “four days of the war” in Noshki and Panjgur; and losses amounting to almost PKR 271 million.

The text from the letter allegedly written by General Bajwa is reproduced in full below:

The below important decisions were taken at the meeting that took place at GHQ on 7 February 2022. 

Pakistan Army pays tribute to all 190 martyrs of Noshki and Panjgur. 

15 percent pay raise for Frontier Corps (FC) and Rangers personnel. 

We request that proper compensation should be announced to the families of martyr army and FC soldiers for making supreme sacrifice for the country. 

It is therefore , requested to kindly accord approval for funds for martyred personnel of Armed Forces.

Fact or fiction?

Soch Fact Check analysed different portions of the letter to assess its authenticity. We used three tools — Forensically, FotoForensics, and ImageForensic, all of which are available online for free — to ascertain digital errors in the letter. Of these, Forensically has been certified by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit organisation that works on research and analysis.

All three tools revealed that the letter has been doctored using Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 version for Windows (results from FotoForensics can be accessed here).

Figure showing portions of the letter that appear to have been copy-pasted from elsewhere as well results of the forensic analysis.

In the figure below, four major errors have been highlighted. First, the Pakistan Army chief’s crest is blurred in the image, rather than appearing crisp and clear. It also appears differently pixelated in comparison to the background and has a faint, box-like border around it, indicating that it has been copy-pasted from elsewhere.

Second, the word ‘Pakistan’ also appears differently pixelated and is not aligned with the text above it. Third, the date appears differently pixelated than the background.

Finally, General Bajwa’s signature appears slightly distorted, with a part of the letter ‘Q’, a part of the letter ‘j’, and the bottom line of the ‘B’ missing. If looked at in its entirety, the copy-pasted portions of the letter in question are distinctly different from the smooth background.

Soch Fact Check compared the signature in the letter to the General’s signature in a letter he sent to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) former head, Najam Sethi.

The letter to the PCB also revealed that the Pakistan Army chief typically starts his letters with “اسسلام علیکم [Assalam Alaikum, or peace be to you].” This greeting is nowhere to be found in the letter in question.

Soch Fact Check also reached out to representatives of the Pakistan Army for a comment on the veracity of the letter. In response to our query, military officials said the image is fake/doctored.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis using the search term “نوشکی پنجگور 190”. The analysis revealed that over the past 30 days, there have been a dozen relevant Facebook posts that raked in more than 100 interactions.

The letter in question went viral a couple of days after Khan, while addressing a ceremony in Naushki following terrorist attacks that left nine soldiers dead, announced a 15% rise in the salaries of FC and Rangers personnel. General Bajwa was also in attendance.

Soch Fact Check traced the letter back to Twitter page @OsintUpdates, which has over 12,000 followers, as of publishing time, and has a picture of Indian Army soldiers posing with India’s flag as its cover image. The account posted two tweets; the first at 4:03 PM on 9 February 2022 containing the image of the fake letter and the second at 8:18 AM on 10 February 2022. It is unclear where @OsintUpdates obtained the letter from.

The second tweet by @OsintUpdates includes a link to a website called Daily Sangar, which published and shared on Twitter a news story titled, “جنرل باجوہ کے خط سے پنجگور و نوشکی میں 190 اہلکاروں کی ہلاکت کا انکشاف [Deaths of 190 personnel in Panjgur and Noshki revealed through General Bajwa’s letter].” The body of the report, however, states that the letter in question “could not be verified by independent sources”.

An image of the fake letter was also posted by Twitter users @sangharsh_77, @sourabh_ag21, @SkyWalkerSay, and @baba_gr.

Soch Fact Check also carried out a tweet analysis through Social Bearing using the search term, “Pak army Gen Bajwa’s letter to Pak PM Imran Khan leaked.” The analysis revealed that over the past eight-day period, there were 40 relevant tweets that reached more than 57,000 users. Seven of the top ten users who posted or engaged with these tweets had locations in India in their Twitter profiles.

According to the analysis, 10 February and 11 February 2022 saw the highest number of relevant tweets posted or shared. The analysis also revealed that the tweets were shared from locations in India, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, France, and Pakistan.

Conclusion: Soch Fact Check found the letter allegedly written by General Bajwa and addressed to Imran Khan to be doctored. It appears that whoever doctored the image used portions of letters and images from elsewhere and merged these into one document. Military officials confirmed to Soch Fact Check that the letter was fake/doctored.

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31 minutes ago

[…] name ‘Bilal’, Captain Dr Bilal Khalil, who was killed in an attack on forces in Balochistan’s Panjgur and Noshki. However, he, too, was a member of the Pakistan Army and not the Pakistan […]

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