Junaid Safdar was not named in the Pandora Papers

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Claim: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s son, Junaid Safdar, has been named in the Pandora Papers as the owner of five offshore companies.

Fact: The Pandora Papers have not revealed any information about Junaid Safdar.

On 3 October 2021, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) named several of Pakistan’s political and official elite as owning offshore companies and foreign estate abroad. The news came as part of ICIJ’s Pandora Papers investigation, which reveals details of offshore holdings retained by influential and wealthy individuals from all over the world.

The day this news broke, PTV News – the news channel operated by the country’s state broadcaster – and ARY News ran bulletins claiming that Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s son, Junaid Safdar, has also been named in the Pandora Papers for owning five offshore companies.

This claim was quickly picked up by prominent individuals such as Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill, and journalist Gharida Farooqi.

The claim spread rapidly as it was shared across social media platforms and by multiple news websites.

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be false. Umar Cheema, a member of ICIJ who has been involved in the Pandora Papers investigation, clarified that Safdar’s name did not appear in the data set that formed the basis of the investigation. Cheema further stated that he has access to all the data uncovered by ICIJ, and that it is highly unlikely for more names beyond those already identified to surface, though not impossible.

Team Soch also reached out to Margot Gibbs, a member of ICIJ who wrote the consortium’s report on what the Pandora Papers reveal about Pakistan. According to Gibbs, “The Safdar claim in particular has certainly been reported by neither The News nor the ICIJ.” She clarified that claims about the Pandora Papers that include people who have not been named by either source are unlikely to be genuine.

 

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