Don’t thank Nawaz Sharif! Scenic bridge in viral photo is in Austria, not Pakistan

Caption accompanying photo of bridge includes words of gratitude to PML-N supremo

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Claim: A scenic motorway-bridge high in the mountains was built under the leadership of PML-N supremo and former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.

Fact: The motorway-bridge is located in Austria, not Pakistan, and has no connection to Sharif.

On 1 January 2022, Facebook user ‘Hayat Yusofzai’ posted an image showing a motorway passing through a mountainous region, with greenery below and a cottage in the bottom-right corner. The visual is a screenshot of a tweet, with the Urdu caption alongside stating:

“ایبٹ آباد شنکیاری
شکریہ نواز شریف
[Abbottabad Shinkiari
Thank you Nawaz Sharif]”

The post by Yusofzai, who has more than 13,500 followers on Facebook, was shared over 300 times. For reference, Abbottabad and Shinkiari — both of which are in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province — are 50 kilometres apart and linked via the Hazara (M-15) Motorway.

Fact or fiction?

Soch Fact Check used Google Reverse Image Search to see if the photograph had appeared elsewhere and whether the photographer who took the shot could be identified. The search revealed that the bridge is in Austria.

Soch Fact Check also used TinEye Reverse Image Search, which linked the photograph to Bloomberg News and British-American royalty-free visual media company Getty Images, Inc. Combining the search results allowed Soch Fact Check to trace the image back to Getty Images and the UK’s stock photography corporation, Alamy, both of which identified the photographer as Walter Geiersperger.

Geiersperger’s photograph is of a portion of Tauernautobahn (A-10), a highway bridge that runs between the Austrian states of Salzburg and Carinthia. The motorway crosses the Hohe Tauern mountain range in the main chain of the Alps, has numerous tunnels, and connects Sweden, Greece, Italy, and Hungary via the European routes E55 and E66.

The image, a cropped version of which is included in the viral claim, is available on Getty Images’ website at a starting price of USD 50, or PKR 8847.50.

Virality

Soch Fact Check traced the screenshot to a 30 December 2021 tweet by Abrar khan (@PAK14_8_47), a Twitter user with upwards of 8,000 followers.

That screenshot, in turn, was shared as standalone posts by various other users on Facebook, with most captions or superimposed text thanking Sharif, the Pakistani politician, for building the bridge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Facebook posts such as this and this were shared over two dozen times, while the image was also posted in groups such as ‘PML(N) NA126 Lahore (Official)’ and ‘I Hate Imran Khan (The Master of U Turn)’. Another user shared the shot three separate times — on 7 January 2022 6:53 PM, 19 January 2022 2:43 PM, and 20 January 2022 5:15 PM.

One Facebook user shared the image with a misleading caption that states the bridge is in Parun in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province.

Conclusion: The motorway-bridge in the picture is in fact Tauernautobahn (A-10), a highway that runs between the Austrian states of Salzburg and Carinthia. The image, which shows a portion of the Tauernautobahn, was taken by photographer Walter Geiersperger and is available on Getty Images. The motorway-bridge is not located in Pakistan, has no connection to Sharif, and was not built under the PML-N government.

(USD 1 = PKR 176.95)

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