Posts wrongly portray image of Turkey’s Erdogan with Imran Khan

Social media posts imply PM Shehbaz Sharif not given the same welcome by Turkey as his predecessor

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Claim: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was not given the same welcome by Turkey during his visit in 2022 as his predecessor, Imran Khan, who was received by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Sharif was welcomed by the Turkish Minister of Local Government instead.

Fact: The picture depicting Khan shaking hands with Erdogan is, in fact, the former welcoming the latter in Pakistan. Further, the individual welcoming Sharif in Turkey is Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, not the Local Government Minister.

On 1 June 2022, Facebook user ‘Saima Tariq’ shared pictures of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Khan — his predecessor and chairperson of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — with Turkish government officials.

The post was accompanied by the following caption:

“عمران خان جب ترکی گیا تھا تو ترکی کا صدر طیب اردگان خود ریسیو کرنے آیا تھا۔
‏شوباز شریف 54 لوگوں کو ترکی لیکر پہنچا تو وہاں کا وزیر بلدیہ رسیو کررہا ہے
 کرائم منسٹر  نے کروڑوں روپے کے اشتہار ایسے بانٹے تھے جیسے اردگان  پلکیں بچھائے کھڑے ہونگے ۔
‏اور عزت اتنی کہ استقبال کیلئے بلدیات کا وزیر آیا
‏آخر ⁧‫#وہ_کون_تھا‬⁩ جس کو یہی نمونہ ملا تھا ہم پر مسلط کرنے کیلئے ؟
[When Imran Khan went to Turkey, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan himself came to receive him,
When Showbaz Sharif reached Turkey with 54 people, the Minister of Local Government came to receive him,
The Crime Minister had spent tens of millions of rupees on advertisements as if Erdogan would himself make a grand welcoming gesture for him.
And he was given so much respect that merely the Minister of Local Government came to welcome him,
After all, who was it who decided to impose this specimen on us?]”

“Showbaz Sharif,” or “Show-off Sharif,” and Crime Minister are jibes made at Prime Minister Sharif due to money-laundering allegations against him.

Fact or Fiction?

Using reverse image search tools, we found the picture on the top shows Khan with Turkey’s Erdogan when the latter arrived at the Noor Khan Airbase on a visit to Pakistan in February 2020. The picture was taken and distributed by the Pakistani Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Press Information Department (PID).

The image was shared on the Twitter accounts of the Government of Pakistan, Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, and the PTI. It is also available at British stock photography agency Alamy, archived here.

The claim that the photograph shows Khan being welcomed in Turkey is wrong as it, in fact, shows Erdogan being welcomed by then-PM Khan in Pakistan. Furthermore, when then-PM Imran Khan visited Turkey in 2019 on the invitation of President Erdogan, he was received at the airport by Konya Governor Cuneyit Orhan Toprak and Pakistani Ambassador Syrus Sajjad Qazi.

The second claim that Sharif was received by the Turkish Minister of Local Government is also incorrect. Such a ministry has not existed in Turkey since 1979 when Suleyman Demirel came into power. Local government affairs are now part of the Interior Ministry. According to a 10 January 2006 archive of the website of the Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM), or Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the last minister of local government was Mahmut Ozdemir.

Sharif was, in fact, received by the Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar at the Ankara Esenboga Airport (ESB) during his three-day visit on 31 May 2022. The Twitter account of the Government of Pakistan originally shared the images, which include the one in the viral visual, while the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) also uploaded the image on its website.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 31-day period from 31 May 2022 to 30 June using the following search term, “عمران خان ترکی صدر طیب اردگان ریسیو شوباز شریف وزیر بلدیہ”.

The search turned up 10 posts, most of which were shared in groups such as ‘pti world official usa’, ‘PTI (Insafians Group)’, ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’, ‘IMRAN KHAN SOCIAL MEDIA WARRIORS ✊’, ‘PTI Fans’, ‘PTI overseas’, ‘Pti Pakistan Official’, and ‘All Pakistan PTI Lovers’.

Three posts — by Facebook page ‘Nawab Rauf Ahammad official’ page, Facebook user ‘Saima Tariq’, and Facebook user ‘وصی لاز’ — were shared 53 times, 86 times, and 26 times, respectively.

On Twitter, the claim can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: The comparison made in the offending post is highly misleading. The picture on the top shows Khan welcoming Erdogan to Pakistan and not the other way around, while the one below shows Sharif being welcomed in Turkey by Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and not the Local Government Minister.

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