Claim: Shireen Mazari says the government of Pakistan has bowed to their US counterparts by allowing the Americans to use the country’s airspace for military purposes despite the proposal being rejected by the cabinet.

Fact: The claim is false. No such development has taken place. Moreover, the visuals used by Mazari are not only old but doctored and were debunked by Soch Fact Check in August 2022.

On 19 February 2023, Pakistan’s former human rights minister and a leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shireen Mazari, posted a tweet (archive) that reads:

“امریکی غلامی کیجانب ایک اور قدم!ہماری کابینہ نےفوجی مقاصدکیلئےامریکہ کو اپنی فضائی حدود(ALOCs)کےاستعمال کی اجازت دینےکی تجویزمسترد کی تھی۔مگرامریکی غلام(سازش کار+مجرموں کاگروہ)پھرسےاپنےامریکی آقاؤں کےسامنےجھک گئےہیں۔نہایت شرمناک!امریکی اشاروں پر ہم نےہمیشہ مصیبتیں ہی جھیلی ہیں
[Another step towards American slavery! Our Cabinet rejected a proposal to allow the US to use its [Pakistan’s] airspace (ALOCs) for military purposes. But the American slaves (conspirators + criminal gang) have once again bowed to their American masters. Extremely shameful! We have always suffered due to American gestures.]”

ALoC stands for Air Lines of Communication. Mazari is referring to the two major political parties in government — the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)  when she says “American slaves,” “conspirators,” and “criminal gang”.

Mazari also included a screenshot of a tweet by Twitter account @bleedgreenarmy that reads as follows:

“Pakistan provides Air Corridors for US Military flights to and from Afghanistan after approval from Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Al Jazeera News”.

The @bleedgreenarmy tweet includes a screengrab of what appears to be a news bulletin allegedly run by Al Jazeera showing US President Joe Biden in a meeting with his advisors. The ticker on the bottom reads:

“Pakistan provides air corridor for U.S. military flights to and from Afghanistan”.

The former federal minister tweeted the same in English here (archive), writing: “Another step towards subservience before US. Our cabinet had rejected proposal for providing ALOCs for mly purposes to the US. But the “Ghulams” of US, the Conspirators & cabal of crooks, have gone back to bowing before US Masters.Shameful. We have always suffered under US diktat.”

Shireen Mazari and PTI, which is led by former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, have time and again accused the US of a “regime-change conspiracy” that led to Khan’s ouster and installing an “imported” government — a reference to the current ruling coalition comprising the PML-N and the PPP.

Soch Fact Check is not investigating the PTI’s claims of a US conspiracy in this article.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check found that the @bleedgreenarmy tweet was, in fact, posted on 3 August 2022 (archive).

We ascertained that the image in question was first published on the website of the US Department of Defense in a blog titled “U.S. Drone Strike Kills al-Qaida Leader in Kabul” (archive).

We also found the image on British stock photography agency Alamy here (archive); it is credited to photographer Adam Schultz and captioned as follows:

Washington, United States Of America. 02nd Aug, 2022. Washington, United States of America. 02 August, 2022. In this White House photo released August 2, 2022, U.S President Joe Biden meets with his national security team to discuss the counterterrorism operation to target Ayman al-Zawahiri in the Situation Room of the White House July 1, 2022 in Washington, DC The White House announced that a U.S. drone strike killed the Al Qaeda leader at his home in Kabul on July 30th. Credit: Adam Schultz/White House Photo/Alamy Live News.”

Furthermore, Soch Fact Check has in the past already debunked the screengrab of the news bulletin allegedly run by Al Jazeera.

In our fact-check published on 16 August 2022, we concluded that the image had been doctored as a reverse image search did not turn up any pictures or screenshots containing the purported Al Jazeera headline and the publication did not publish any articles corroborating the claim in question.

We had also mentioned back in August 2022 that we reached out to an Al Jazeera correspondent, who, on the condition of anonymity due to not being authorised to speak to the media, said, “Al Jazeera did not confirm the news! An image was shown from a screenshot and the social media went ballistic by quoting Al Jazeera.”

It is important to note that the Taliban (archive) and some analysts at that time speculated (archive) that Pakistan may have provided airspace for the drone, but the reports were not confirmed by any US or Pakistani authorities.

Shireen Mazari’s claim, therefore, stands false and the screenshot she shared of an Al Jazeera article is doctored.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found that Mazari’s tweet, as of writing time, has been viewed over 92,000 times. The post has received 149 comments, 2,842 retweets, and 4,585 likes.

Mazari’s tweet in English has been viewed over 100,000 times and has received 93 comments, 1,558 retweets, and 2,780 likes.

We came across Facebook posts carrying the claim here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. We also found the same claim here, here, here, and here on Twitter.

The screenshot was circulated in WhatsApp groups as well.

Conclusion: No such development has taken place. The visuals used by Mazari are not only old but doctored and were accordingly debunked by Soch Fact Check in August 2022.

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