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Pakistani newspapers’ 6 Feb front pages carry PML-N ad, not a report

Pakistan holds much-delayed general election on 8 February 2024


Claim: On 6 February 2024, front pages of multiple Pakistani newspapers announced Nawaz Sharif as the next prime minister, claiming he was voted in by the people’s choice.

Fact: The front page is an advertisement and not a news piece. Since the 2024 general elections in Pakistan are underway, it cannot be said that Nawaz Sharif has been appointed as the next prime minister by the people’s choice.

On 6 February 2024, multiple print newspapers in Pakistan carried a front page declaring Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Supremo and three-time premier, Nawaz Sharif, as the next prime minister who was chosen by the public.

English-language newspapers, such as The Express Tribune and Dawn, included the following text:

  • “Nawaz Sharif The PM”
  • “Public’s Decision for Nawaz’s Vision”
  • “Sher ko vote do [Vote for Tiger]”
  • “پاکستان کو نواز دو [Bless Pakistan with Nawaz [Sharif]]”
  • “Nawaz delivers on every promise by the grace of Almighty Allah”

The Urdu-language newspapers, such as Roznama (Daily) Dunya, Roznama Jang, and Roznama Express, included the following text:

  • “نواز شریف وزیر اعظم [Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif]”
  • “عوام نے اپنا فیصلہ سناديا [The people have made their decision]”
  • “انشاللہ 8 فروری کو ن لیگ بھاری اکثریت سے کامیاب ہوکر ملک کو بحرانوں سے نکالے گی۔ ن لیگ [Inshallah, on 8 February, the PML-N will succeed by a huge majority and bring the country out of crisis: PML-N]”
  • “پاکستان کو نواز دو [Bless Pakistan with Nawaz [Sharif]]”
  • “شیر کو ووٹ دو [Vote for Tiger]”
  • “نواز شریف جو وعدہ کرتا ہے، اللہ کے فضل و کرم سے پورا کرتا ہے [What Nawaz Sharif promises, he fulfills it with the grace and grace of Allah]”

The e-papers of The Express Tribune, Dawn, The News, Roznama Jang, and Roznama Express are available here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

2024 general elections

The pre-election political landscape in Pakistan is characterised by distinct circumstances for former prime minister and founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Supremo Nawaz Sharif, amid the shadow of alleged military interference.

“Concerns are mounting among analysts and sections of the political class that the coming vote might rank near the top of the list of most manipulated votes even in the country’s chequered democratic journey”, Al Jazeera wrote (archive) recently. It added, “Critics point to the crackdown by state authorities against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its charismatic leader, Imran Khan, as evidence of widespread rigging that could deny the former prime minister and his party a shot at a fair contest.”

On 30 January 2024, Khan was sentenced (archive) to 10 years in prison for “leaking state secrets”, a case in which he was accused of making public a “cipher,” or classified cable, sent by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US last year that he claims (archive) “was proof of a conspiracy by the Pakistani military and US government to topple his government in 2022 after he visited Moscow just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

A day later, on 31 January 2024, the PTI founder and his wife, Bushra Khan, popularly known as Bushra Bibi, were sentenced (archive) to 14 years each for “illegally selling state gifts” in a decision that came just days ahead of the 2024 general elections.

The former PM has been incarcerated since 5 August 2023 and was consequently disqualified from contesting elections.

On the other hand, Sharif — who has held the prime minister’s post three times — returned (archive) to Pakistan in October 2023 after staying in London for years. He had left for the UK in 2019 on medical grounds (archive) after being handed a seven-year jail sentence over corruption charges (archive).

The roles of Sharif and Khan have been reversed (archive) as the former was unable to participate in the 2018 elections due to imprisonment; six years later, however, he is now positioned for a potential fourth term as the prime minister after being cleared (archive) of all charges and a lifetime ban on convicted politicians for running for office ruled unconstitutional.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check found that it is evident that the front pages of said newspapers are advertisements by the PML-N but have been misleadingly presented as regular news articles. They are also not clearly marked as advertisements, which may potentially mislead voters.

Conclusion: The front page declaring Nawaz Sharif as the next premier of Pakistan is an advertisement and not a news piece. The 2024 general elections in Pakistan are currently underway; therefore, it cannot be said at the moment that Nawaz Sharif has become the prime minister by the people’s choice.

Background image in cover photo: pml.n.official

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