Ishaq Dar did not suggest selling Pakistan’s nuclear assets

A screenshot of Shahzeb Khanzada’s doctored tweet has gone viral

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Claim: A screenshot of journalist Shahzeb Khanzada’s tweet suggests that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not help the country, Pakistan may consider selling its nuclear assets. 

Fact: The finance minister did not make any such comment about selling Pakistan’s nuclear program. The screenshot doing the rounds on social media is doctored.

Fact or Fiction:

On 4 December 2022, Facebook user Mohammed Ehsan shared a screenshot of a tweet by journalist Shahzeb Khanzada. The tweet claims Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan might consider selling it’s nuclear assets if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not help the country.

The tweet, when translated, reads, “Pakistan will not default. It does not matter if one does not have the atomic capability. Save the country today. We can get nuclear weapons again after five years. If the IMF doesn’t help us we will not beg them. Our ninth review is complete. The IMF should give Pakistan the next installment. We have told them [IMF] that your attitude is abnormal. If the IMF doesn’t come, then we will sell our nuclear program as this program is already a burden on the public exchequer – Ishaq Dar,” 

Soch Fact Check browsed through Khanzada’s Twitter timeline and found no such tweet. 

Dar appeared on the Geo News showAaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’ on 2 December but did not make any such comment about the nuclear program on the show. 

On 3 December, Khanzada tweeted a clip of the show featuring Dar and wrote,  “Pakistan will not default. If the IMF does not help us, we won’t beg them. I have to look at the situation in Pakistan. Our ninth review is complete. The IMF should pay the installment to Pakistan. I have told them [the IMF] that their behavior is abnormal. If the IMF does not come, then we will manage.”

The full version of the show is available on YouTube, where Dar can be seen making this statement at the 20:25 timestamp.

At 27:05, the finance minister mentioned that he told the IMF, “You are behaving abnormal” but did not say anything about Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

Dawn also reported on the finance minister saying on the show that, “If they [IMF] don’t come then we will manage — no problem.” This article did not mention “selling the nuclear program” in exchange for debt relief either.

A review of the latest news revealed that no statement about selling nuclear assets has been attributed to Dar in mainstream media. 

Therefore, Soch Fact Check concluded that the tweet was doctored.

The proliferation of the claim could be linked to rumours and speculation about Pakistan’s risk of defaulting on its foreign payments. The State Bank of Pakistan has, however, downplayed the risk of default.

Virality:

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 30-day period leading up to 12 December using the following search term:

  • آگر آئی ایم ایف پیسے نہیں دیتے تو جوہری پروگرام بیچ دیں گے، یہ ویسے ہی خزانے پر بوجھ ہے۔ اسحاق ڈار [If IMF does not give us money, we will sell the nuclear program as it’s a burden on the public exchequer]

The search term turned up seven posts with 205 interactions. The claim can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

On Twitter, it was shared here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Soch Fact Check also used Facebook’s search feature to check the virality of the claim with the same search term and found at least one post carrying the viral claim.

Conclusion: Ishaq Dar did not suggest selling Pakistan’s nuclear assets in exchange for debt relief if the IMF does not give money to Pakistan. The screenshot of a viral tweet by Shahzeb Khanzada claiming this is doctored.

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