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Did Asif Zardari imply Bilawal is not a ‘decent’ man in recent speech?

2022 video from PPP rally doctored to mislead people

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Claim: In a recent rally ahead of the 8 February 2024 elections, Asif Ali Zardari said the time has come now to replace Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari with a decent man who can run Pakistan.

Fact: The video does not match the audio, which has been altered to include the name of Bilawal when Zardari was actually referring to former prime minister Imran Khan.

On 3 February 2024, Soch Fact Check received a video on WhatsApp showing Asif Ali Zardari — the former president and the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — addressing a rally alongside his son, former finance minister, and the party’s chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

The text accompanying the video, which was marked “Forwarded many times,” is as follows:

“دوستو اب وہ وقت آگیا ہے کہ بلاول کی جگہ ہم کسی اور شریف آدمی کو بٹھائیں جو کہ ملک چلا سکے ۔۔ آصف زرداری 😁🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
[Friends, the time has come now to replace Bilawal with some other decent man who can run the country, [says] Asif Zardari 😁🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣]”

Ahead of the 2024 general elections in Pakistan, slated for 8 February, Soch Fact Check has observed an influx of false and misleading claims that may impact public opinion and voter behaviour.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is contesting elections from the Lahore-XI (NA-127) constituency, as per the Form 33 list of candidates. He also aims “to become prime minister of Pakistan”, according to this report (archive).

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check first observed that the audio is out of sync and does not match what Zardari’s lips appear to be uttering.

We then input one keyframe from the viral video in Yandex Reverse Image Search, which matched it to a thumbnail for a now-deleted clip on ARY News website. However, we could extract from its URL — “it-is-time-to-move-forward-and-remove-the-prime-minister-says-asif-zardari” — the fact that Zardari made a comment about the removal of a prime minister.

We searched the phrase above on Google again and found a video (archive) uploaded on ARY News YouTube channel on 8 March 2022 that matched the description.

Using TinEye Reverse Image Search, we found that a similar screenshot also appeared in an 8 March 2022 article (archive), titled “آصف زرداری کی عوامی لانگ مارچ میں سرپرائز انٹری [Asif Zardari’s surprise entry in Awami Long March],” on the Daily Jang.

Using the information from above, we used CrowdTangle to list all videos posted on the PPP’s verified Facebook page by limiting the results to between 7 and 8 March 2022. One of the clips that turned up, available here (archive), includes the original audio, which includes the following phrase:

“تو دوستوں، اب وہ وقت آگیا ہے کہ ہم اگے بڑھ کے اور اس ناپاک پرائم منسٹر کو نکالیں اور اس کی جگہ ہم کسی اور شریف آدمی کو بٹھایں جو کہ ملک چلا سکے اور ہم اس کی مدد کریں، انشاللہ
[So friends, it’s time we move on and remove this filthy prime minister and replace him with a decent man who can run the country and we help him, God willing.]”

A sound engineer at Soch Videos — a sister company of Soch Fact Check — used the audio repair tool RX 10 Advanced to identify  the exact moment where Zardari’s remarks have been altered. This can be seen in the visual below:

The faded, abnormal peaks visible on the spectrogram are the indication of the audio being altered.

Soch Fact Check, therefore, concludes that the viral video in question is inauthentic and includes doctored audio. Zardari did not imply that Bilawal is not a decent man.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found that the WhatsApp message was marked “Forwarded many times”, indicating that it has gone significantly viral across Pakistan at least.

The video was shared here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook. It was also shared as a Reel here, here, here, here, and here.

On X (formerly Twitter), the clip was shared here and here; the latter is a post by @SajidFb, who gained over 93,900 views as of writing time and has peddled multiple dubious claims that Soch Fact Check has debunked in the past.

Conclusion: The viral video does not match the audio, which has been altered to include the name of Bilawal, when Zardari was actually referring to former-Prime Minister Imran Khan.


Background image in cover photo: Bilawalhouse


To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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