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Old clip of Imran Khan supporters misleadingly portrayed as 'huge party rally before 2024 vote'

An old clip showing a huge number of supporters of Pakistan's jailed former leader Imran Khan has resurfaced online in posts that misleadingly claim it was filmed days before the national elections in February 2024. The clip actually shows Khan supporters in March 2023 and was filmed in the capital Islamabad, not the eastern megacity of Lahore as the posts claim.

The clip -- showing cars carrying dozens of people making their way through huge crowds -- was shared in a misleading context on social media platform X on January 28, 2024.

"Under the leadership of Imran Khan, the funeral of PML-N politics was held on the streets of Lahore, whose people created history," reads the caption to the clip shared more than 6,200 times on X.

It surfaced in the leadup to Pakistan's February 8 vote, where Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was barred from contesting as a bloc.

Pollsters predicted a low turnout from the country's 128 million eligible voters following a lacklustre campaign overshadowed by the jailing of Khan, and the hobbling of PTI through court orders, a ban on rallies, and the harassment of party leaders.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had been expected to win the most seats, with analysts saying its 74-year-old founder Nawaz Sharif had the blessing of the military-led establishment.

But Khan's PTI candidates -- forced to run as independents -- won the most seats, with a handful of results still to count.

<span>Screenshot of the false X post, captured on February 7, 2024</span>
Screenshot of the false X post, captured on February 7, 2024

The same clip was shared alongside a similar misleading claim elsewhere on here and here, as well as on TikTok here and here.

But it was in fact filmed some eleven months before the elections, in the capital Islamabad and not in Lahore as the posts claim.

Misrepresented video

A reverse image search on Google led to similar footage from March 18, 2023, when Khan travelled to a court complex in Islamabad.

AFP reported at the time that Khan had travelled more than 300 kilometres from Lahore to Islamabad to appear in court over graft charges,  but was unable to get out of the car.

Around 4,000 supporters mobbed the complex, pelting stones and throwing bricks at police officers who fired back with tear gas.

A 43-minute long video of Khan's journey was uploaded to his official YouTube channel here, in a video titled, "LIVE | Chairman PTI Imran Khan's Hearing In Judicial Complex Islamabad" (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video falsely shared online (left) and the video from 2023 (right) showing the same individuals sitting atop a vehicle with a red bridge in the background:

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video falsely shared online (left) and the video from 2023 (right)</span>
Screenshot comparison of the video falsely shared online (left) and the video from 2023 (right)

The bridge over the Srinagar Highway in Islamabad can be seen in a photo uploaded to Google Maps here (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison between the bridge as seen in the falsely shared video (left) and the same bridge as seen on Google Maps (right), with matching features highlighted by AFP:

<span>Screenshot comparison between the bridge as seen in the falsely shared video (left) and the same bridge as seen on Google Maps (right), with matching features highlighted by AFP</span>
Screenshot comparison between the bridge as seen in the falsely shared video (left) and the same bridge as seen on Google Maps (right), with matching features highlighted by AFP

AFP has previously debunked misinformation swirling around the Pakistan elections here, here and here.