Claim: Sher Afzal Marwat supports the call for a boycott of the 2024 general elections in Pakistan.

Fact: The video of Sher Afzal Marwat is doctored using artificial intelligence (AI). In the original video that was used as a source of the deepfake, Marwat asked people to vote for the PTI’s National Assembly candidate from Islamabad’s NA-48 constituency.

On 8 February 2024, a Facebook profile named ‘Fact Check’ posted a video allegedly showing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President and an advocate at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Sher Afzal Khan Marwat, announcing support for a boycott of the 2024 general elections.

The accompanying caption — which includes hashtags like “#boycott,” “#viralreelsfb,” “#sherafzalmarwat,” “#elections,” “#networkmarking,” “#PTIchairmanIMRANKHAN,” and “#wardgiya” — is as follows:

“🚨 سب سے بڑی بریکنگ 🚨
عمران کی آواز پر لبیک کہتے ہوئے شیر افضل مروت نے بھی الیکشن بائیکاٹ کا اعلان کر دیا ہے
الیکشن تو وڑ گیا
[🚨 Biggest breaking 🚨
Responding to Imran’s call, Sher Afzal Marwat has also announced a boycott of elections
The election is screwed]”

Soch Fact Check transcribed the comments allegedly made by Sher Afzal Khan Marwat:

“بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم۔
[In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.]]”

“میں سارے پاکستانیوں کو بتانا چاہتا ہوں، پاکستان تحریکِ انصاف بڑی کڑے دور سے گزر رہی ہے اور ہمارا خان پابندِ سَلاسِل ہے۔
[I want to tell all the Pakistanis, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is going through an extremely challenging time and our [Imran] Khan is under arrest.]”

“الیکشن کمیشن کا جانبدارانہ رویّہ دیکھتے ہوئے، خان کے الیکشن 2024 کے بائیکاٹ کے فیصلے کے ساتھ کھڑے ہیں۔
[Seeing the partial attitude of the Election Commission [of Pakistan], we stand with [Imran] Khan’s decision to boycott the 2024 elections]”

“امید کرتا ہوں کے ہماری قوم اس فیصلے میں ہمارا ساتھ دے گی۔
[I hope that our nation will support us in this decision]”

“الله آپ سب کا حامی و
[May Allah support you]”

Related: Doctored video of Imran Khan’s lawyer goes viral amid Pakistan election season

Though associated with the PTI, Marwat contested elections for a National Assembly seat as an independent candidate from the Lakki Marwat (NA-41) constituency with the electoral symbol of a “flamingo.” He won with 117,988 votes, according to the Form 47 issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The different symbols were allotted after the PTI’s electoral symbol, the cricket bat, symbolising Khan’s past as a cricketer, became a bone of contention ahead of the general elections, and was taken away (archive) through a Supreme Court ruling on 13 January.

Amid the 2024 general elections in Pakistan, which took place on 8 February, Soch Fact Check observed an influx of false and misleading claims.

2024 elections

The general elections in Pakistan were marred by allegations of rigging as results were declared (archive) “more than 60 hours after voting ended”, with PTI-backed independent candidates taking the lead over those who contested on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket.

Read more: Video of PTI’s Basharat Raja boycotting elections is a deepfake

Despite being jailed (archive) for a total of 31 years for corruption, leaking state secrets, and an unIslamic marriage, former prime minister Imran Khan declared victory in a speech generated by artificial intelligence (AI), with 93 of the 264 seats secured by his independent candidates, according to the Reuters article cited above. The party of his main opponent, PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif, got 75 seats, with the former premier, too, claiming he won.

Former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was able to secure 54 seats, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) bagged 17 seats.

The PTI cried foul (archive) as the results of 18 seats “allegedly won by the party were ‘falsely changed’” and called upon its supporters to protest wherever they are in the world.

The pre-poll political landscape in Pakistan was characterised by distinct circumstances for Khan and Sharif amid the shadow of alleged military interference. The former, incarcerated since 5 August 2023, was consequently disqualified from contesting elections, whereas the latter was “once targeted by Pakistan’s military establishment” but “appeared to have won the favour of the generals for the 2024 vote”, according to an Al Jazeera report (archive).

Also read: Nawaz Sharif’s video boycotting the elections is old

Sharif 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). Six years later, however, he was cleared (archive) of all charges and a lifetime ban on convicted politicians for running for office was ruled unconstitutional.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check first observed that the audio is not in sync and does not match what Marwat appears to be uttering. The lawyer’s face also looks robotic and the words he says look forced out of his mouth.

Reverse image search tools led us to this X (formerly Twitter) post (archive), which flags the video as “ANOTHER AI GENERATED VIDEO”.

To confirm if the video is altered, we searched Marwat’s verified X account, @sherafzalmarwat, where he often reposts posts from his official social media team. Some of @Shermediateam’s posts from 29 January 2024 show him with the same clothes as he is seen wearing in the viral video.

On 28 January, he arrived (archive) at the Marwat House wearing the clothes seen in the viral video and met (archive) leaders of the Marwat tribe there, according to @Shermediateam. He is again seen in the same attire on 29 January when he issued video statements, as seen here (archive) and here (archive).

Related: Yasmin Rashid’s video announcing PTI’s boycott of 2024 elections is AI-generated

However, neither of the two clips show a man wearing a white kurta and black waistcoat on Marwat’s right side, as seen in the viral video.

Taking cues from the fact that he issued video statements on 29 January, we searched a dedicated fan page called ‘Sher Afzal Khan Fans’ for other video statements he may have issued on 29 January and found one (archive) in which he is donning the same attire as seen in the viral video. This clip does feature a man wearing a white kurta and black waistcoat sitting on Marwat’s right side.

However, this too is not an exact match as Marwat’s right hand is over his left one, with which he is holding either a pen or a pencil, as opposed to the viral video, which shows him holding the wrist of his right hand with his left hand. He also bows his head down briefly in the viral clip, which is not the case in the one posted on the Facebook fan page.

Searching further, we came across a video (archive) posted on the same date on the YouTube channel of Capital TV that matches the viral video exactly except that it has a different audio.

In this one, Marwat can be heard talking about Syed Muhammad Ali Bokhari, a PTI-backed candidate for the National Assembly who contested election as an independent from the ICT III (NA-48) constituency with the electoral symbol of a ‘parachute’. The man seated on his right side can be identified as Bokhari as Marwat can be heard saying that Bokhari is his friend and had Imran Khan’s trust.

We also found an X post (archive) by Marwat who wrote, “We categorically deny any talk of boycotting elections. We will vigorously exercise our democratic rights and participate fully in the electoral process.”

Read more: PTI is not boycotting 2024 general election

Therefore, Soch Fact Check concludes that the viral video we are investigating is doctored, likely through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

According to Poynter, a deepfake is “a machine-generated image or video that changes faces, bodies or voices, making people appear to do and say things that they never did or said. Items can also be added to a video to distort the truth.”

Virality

Soch Fact Check found that the video was also posted with another caption, which is as follows:

“‏شیر افضل مروت بھی انتخابات سے فرار ہونے لگا✌️😂
تحریک انصاف کے امیدواروں نے انتخابات کے بائیکاٹ کا سلسلہ جاری رکھا ہوا۔
اب تک 5 بڑے امیدوار بائیکاٹ کرچکے ہیں
[Sher Afzal Marwat has also started to run away from the elections
[Pakistan] Tehreek-e-Insaf candidates continue to boycott the elections.
So far, five major candidates have boycotted]”

The clip was posted here and here as a Facebook Reel, here, here, here, here, and here as a standalone post, and here and here in public groups.

We also came across two X posts that went significantly viral; one by @lawyers_forum (archive), which was viewed over 120,100 times, and the other by @RShahzaddk (archive), which received more than 477,700 views.

Conclusion: The video of Sher Afzal Marwat declaring a boycott of the 2024 general elections has been doctored using artificial intelligence (AI). In the original video that was used as a source of the deepfake, Marwat can be seen sitting alongside Syed Muhammad Ali Bokhari, another PTI candidate, urging people to vote for him.


Background image in cover photo: Rayaan.Khan.Marwat


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

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4 months ago

[…] Related: PTI’s Sher Azfal Marwat did not call for 2024 election boycott; video is a deepfake! […]

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