Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has not announced his resignation
Several misleading posts populated Facebook claiming that PM Shehbaz Sharif has announced his resignation in an urgent press conference
Claim: Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif has announced his resignation and will be dissolving the country’s assemblies.
Fact: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has made no such announcement.
On 18 and 19 January 2022, several pages shared videos on Facebook with different variations of the caption, “شہباز شریف نے نئے الیکشن کی تاریخ دیدی اور استعفیٰ کا اعلان کردیا” [Translation: Shehbaz Sharif has announced a fate for the new election and submitted his resignation]. Other versions also claimed that he had announced a dissolution of the assemblies.
Some of the videos featured a 10 minute 27 second long clip of Shehbaz Sharif addressing the public on TV, while others carried compilations of news headlines from various news channels including GEO, SAMAA, HUM Digital, Capital TV and ARY News. These headlines did not contain references to Sharif resigning, fresh elections or the assemblies being dissolved. Some videos also included voiceovers by the posters, accompanying a montage of images and clips mainstream politicians.
In one such video, the voiceover featured references to the controversial claims regarding American interference in the recent political upheaval in Pakistan. The voiceover also contained political commentary on the deteriorating economic conditions of the country.
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check noticed several similar videos cropping up onon Facebook. From these videos, which reached millions of viewers and were shared extensively, we extracted three claims which we determined to be false.
- Shehbaz Sharif announced his resignation
- The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) /Shehbaz Sharif has announced a date for the new election
- Shehbaz Sharif has announced the dissolution of the National Assembly
We looked at the official website for the Prime Minister’s office where all of the Prime Ministers press releases are updated. The latest press releases were dated 16 July 2022.
The first press release issued on 16 July read that Sharif met Punjab provincial minister Ramesh Singh and assured him that the security and welfare of religious minorities residing in Pakistan is indeed a government priority.
The second press release issued on 16 July explained that the prime minister conducted a comprehensive discussion on the state of dengue in Pakistan. The release stated that Sharif guided the Chief Secretary of Punjab to form a specialized committee to look over the safety measures which should be taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
Other press releases from the month of July covered various events but none of them included anything regarding a date for the new election, the resignation of the prime minister or the dissolution of the National Assembly.
Screenshots for the 16 July press releases are attached below:
We also looked through the press releases’ archive on the official website of the Election Commission of Pakistan and confirmed that the ECP, which is the primary governing body with regards to updates on the general election, had made no announcements regarding a date being set for new elections.
Through a Google Reverse Image Search, we found that the clips of Shahbaz Sharif used in the misleading videos have largely been taken from a press conference held in Islamabad on 14 March 2022 and a public address given by Sharif after talks with the IMF on 21 June 2022. One of the videos features a clip of Sharif addressing the National Assembly right after he became prime minister. The address was posted online on 11 April 2022.
Soch Fact Check also got in touch with Sher Ali Arbab, a PTI MNA who stated that he was not aware of any such developments with regards to the prime minister’s resignation or announcement of a new election date. He said he has not been informed formally or informally of any such developments.
The misleading videos have risen to prominence in the context of the 2022 Punjab by-election, in the midst of which various PTI leaders, including former Interior Minister Fawad Chaudhary, have demanded Shehbaz Sharif’s resignation in interviews and in the media.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 2-day period from 18 July 2022 to 19 July 2022 using the following search terms:
“شہباز” “شریف” “استعفیٰ”
We found Facebook posts reaching more than 188,604 people and videos watched more than 904,652 times by users on Facebook. Some of these posts can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
Conclusion: Viral videos on Facebook claimed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced his resignation and the date of the next election. Some also claimed that he has announced the dissolution of the National Assembly. Soch Fact Check found these claims to be false.