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Shehbaz Sharif’s statement about army chief misconstrued

He did not say his trust in army chief guarantees Nawaz Sharif premiership

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Claim: Former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that there is no possibility of any conspiracy in the presence of Army Chief General Asim Munir, in any case, Nawaz Sharif will be Pakistan’s next premier.

Fact: Sharif’s statement has been misconstrued. He did not say that Nawaz Sharif will become the next prime minister because of his trust in General Asim Munir. In an interview, he rules out the possibility of a conspiracy against the next elected government because of the presence of the current army chief. 

Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan’s parliament elected Shehbaz Sharif as the new prime minister following Imran Khan’s ouster in a no-confidence vote in April 2022. Sharif led a coalition government of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) until August 2023, when an interim government under caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar took over. Sharif previously served as chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, between 2013 to 2018.

Fact or Fiction?

On 2 February 2024, the digital media platform Siasat.pk attributed the following statement (archive) to the former prime minister and president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N):

“جنرل عاصم منیر کے ہوتے ہوئے کسی سازش کا امکان نہیں، ہر صورت نواز شریف وزیر اعظم ہوں گے

[There is no possibility of any conspiracy in the presence of General Asim Munir, in any case, Nawaz Sharif will be the prime minister.]”

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be misleading. While investigating the veracity of the claim, we came across an interview of Shehbaz Sharif with anchor Javed Chaudhry. The full interview, titled “Exclusive Interview of Shehbaz Sharif | Kal Tak With Javed Ch | 1 February 2023 | Express News” is available on YouTube. 

At the 27:45 mark of the clip, the anchor can be heard asking Sharif, “You think that in 2024, there will be no General Zaheer Abbasi and so Imran Khan will not be out [of jail] because of this reason, you [PML-N] will be able to rule easily as well as implement your manifesto?”

Sharif responded in Urdu, between 27:56 and 28:26, saying, “I think that in the presence of the current army chief, there is no possibility for any conspiracy, any conspiracy against an elected government. I not only reject it far and wide. I have worked with him [Army chief General Asim Munir] for seven months. Their [army’s] strong thinking is for the development and prosperity of the country. And for the integrity of the country, they can help in every way possible and lend a helping hand. I have no qualms about saying that.”

Later, at the 29:16 mark, Sharif emphasised the need for political and economic stability in Pakistan, stating the country requires a strong government with a simple majority. He expressed confidence in Nawaz Sharif as a potential leader if voted in but affirmed his willingness to accept any leader the nation chose. If Nawaz Sharif secures a simple majority, Sharif said, PML-N will form a government and address challenges. However, he also expressed openness to discussions about forming a coalition government if that is not the case.

When asked about the potential prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif reiterated that “God willing, Nawaz Sharif is the one”.

A Google search with the key term “Shehbaz Sharif army chief” led us to an article by The Express Tribune dated 2 February 2024 titled, “Shehbaz fully trusts Gen Asim.” The report states that Sharif “expressed confidence in the incumbent Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir, saying that there would be no possibility of any conspiracy in his presence” while speaking during Express News programme ‘Kal Tak’.

Apart from this, we could not find any credible media reports carrying the viral statement attributed to Shehbaz Sharif.

Hence, Sharif did not give any statement implying that Nawaz Sharif will be the next prime minister because there is no possibility of any conspiracy in the presence of the army chief.

Virality:

The claim can be found here, here, here, here and here on X. 

Neo News Urdu also shared the viral claim on X  (archive) and their website (archive). 

The tweet by Siasat.pk gained significant traction with 361,000 views, 1,400 likes and 688 reposts.

It was also shared by Siasat.pk (archive) and Newsone Digital (archive), and others including here, here, here and here on Facebook.

Conclusion: The viral claim misrepresents Shehbaz Sharif’s original statement. He actually ruled out any conspiracy against the next elected government, emphasising the army chief’s presence as a deterrent to conspiracies, irrespective of the party forming the government.


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

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