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Shehbaz Sharif did not congratulate India’s Congress party on Karnataka election win

Viral tweet shows Shehbaz hoping for ‘strengthening of Islam in India’

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Claim: Shehbaz Sharif tweeted his congratulations to the Indian National Congress for its win in the Karnataka elections and said he hoped that the Congress and the SDPI “will work for the strengthening of Islam in India and the sovereignty of Karnataka”.

Fact: The tweet is fabricated. Shehbaz Sharif never posted such a tweet.

On 13 May 2023, Facebook user ‘Bala Krishnan’ posted (archive) a screenshot of a tweet allegedly made by Shehbaz Sharif, in which the Pakistani prime minister congratulated the Indian National Congress for its win in the Karnataka elections.

‘Bala Krishnan’ wrote: “International SDPI congratulates Congress and Muslims”.

Sharif’s tweet, in Urdu and English in the screenshot, reads as follows:

“میں کانگریس کو منتخب کرنے کے لیے کرناٹک کے عوام کا تہہ دل سے شکریہ ادا کرنا چاہتا ہوں، مجھے امید ہے کہ کانگریس ہماری SDPI کے ساتھ مل کر ہندوستان میں اسلام کی مضبوطی اور کرناٹک کی خودمختاری کے لیے کام کرے
[I would like to heartily thank the people of Karnataka for electing Congress, I hope that Congress along with our SDPI will work for the strengthening of Islam in India and the sovereignty of Karnataka!]”

The SDPI, which stands for the Social Democratic Party of India, is thought to be the political wing of the Popular Front of India — a banned Islamic organisation and is included in the post since critics of the Indian National Congress party accuse it of being pro-Islam and pro-Pakistan, as well as anti-national.

This is evident through posts like this one (archive) — that claims the tweet by Shehbaz Sharif is “yet another proof of the #Congress leadership joining hands with anti national forces actively operating [from] across the border” — and this one (archive), which states how one “can imagine that how and with whom help and support Congress has won the election”.

The same day, the Indian National Congress had won the crucial election, having bagged “more than 130 out of 224 state assembly seats”, according to the BBC (archive), and defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs to.

The election win is the first major win ahead of the “parliamentary elections due in April and May 2024” in India and “since Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was convicted of defamation in March and lost his parliament seat”, Reuters (archive) noted.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check probed @CMShehbaz — Sharif’s official Twitter account with a grey check mark that denotes it belongs to a government or multilateral organisation — and found three tweets between 12 May and 14 May 2023; none of these contains the same content as is in the viral screenshot.

The viral screenshot mentions that Sharif’s tweet has “53 Quotes” and, according to the ‘How to delete a Tweet’ section (archive) of the Twitter Help Center, even if a tweet has been deleted, the quote-tweets remain published and are not taken down; however, we did not find any such quote-tweet.

Using Twitter’s advanced search option with 10 specific search terms — “کانگریس”, “کرناٹک”, “شکریہ”, “ہندوستان”, “اسلام”, “thank”, “Karnataka”, “Congress”, “Islam”, and “India” —  did not yield any results in the 12-14 May time frame either.

The record of Sharif’s Twitter account on Social Blade, an analytics website, shows that the prime minister of Pakistan tweeted thrice on 13 May and did not post anything on the preceding or the following day.

AltNews, AFP Fact Check, and Factly — all three of which are accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), of which Soch Fact Check is a signatory as well — mentioned that another analytics tool called TruthNest also shows three tweets by Sharif that day.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found the false screenshot here (archive), here (archive), here (archive), here (archive), and here (archive) on Facebook. It was also shared here (archive) and here (archive) on Twitter.

Conclusion: Shehbaz Sharif never posted such a tweet. The viral screenshot is fabricated.


Background images in cover photo: @ShehbazSharif and @rahulgandhi


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

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