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Mask of arch-rival, not bottle thrown at ex-Pakistani PM in parliament

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Pakistan’s ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif was almost struck by a mask depicting his arch-rival Imran Khan that was hurled at him in parliament — not a bottle, as social media posts misleadingly claimed. The stunt happened as lawmakers were sworn in following controversial elections. A close-up of the footage from state media shows the mask fly past Nawaz and land on the shoulder of his brother Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“Someone threw a bottle at Mian Nawaz Sharif when he was signing in at the National Assembly,” reads a post on social media platform X.

The Urdu-language post, which garnered more than 56,000 views, shows a video of an object hurled at Sharif from the assembly floor.

It was shared on February 29, as lawmakers were sworn in during the first sitting of Pakistan’s new parliament, three weeks after an election marred by widespread allegations of rigging.

The poll took place with ex-prime minister Imran Khan jailed and barred from running, and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party targeted by a campaign of arrests and censorship.

Khan’s followers defied the crackdown to win more seats than any other party but the military-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) shut them out of power with a coalition government headed by Shehbaz Sharif.

Shehbaz’s brother and three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif is seen in the video targeted with an object.

<span>A screenshot of the misleading post on X, taken on March 14, 2024</span>

A screenshot of the misleading post on X, taken on March 14, 2024

The video was also shared on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok in posts that misleadingly claimed it showed Sharif hit with a bottle.

While some social media users clarified the object thrown at Sharif was an Imran Khan mask, some appeared to believe it was a bottle.

“When he was in London, he was branded a thief. Here in Pakistan, he has been hit by bottle,” read one comment — referring to Sharif’s years of self-imposed exile in Britain to escape a jail sentence.

“I strongly condemn the bottle missing Nawaz Sharif and demand he be hit with a bottle again,” a Facebook user wrote.

A search of videos on the state-run PTV Parliament’s YouTube channel found footage of the incident in a three-hour broadcast of the inaugural session of parliament.

The video, which is filmed at a closer angle than the clip circulating on social media, shows the object thrown at Sharif is a mask, not a bottle.

The mask is seen hurling over Sharif’s head at the 33:17 mark, landing on the shoulder of his brother Shehbaz, who is standing behind him (archived link).

<span>Screenshots of clip which show Imran Khan's mask flying over Sharif (right) and landing on the shoulder of his younger brother and current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (right):</span>

Screenshots of clip which show Imran Khan’s mask flying over Sharif (right) and landing on the shoulder of his younger brother and current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (right):

Khan’s supporters wore masks depicting the jailed ex-prime minister at the inaugural session of the parliament, as shown in an AFP photo.

<span>A supporter of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party wears a mask replicating Khan, during the inaugural session of the National Assembly, outside the parliament house building in Islamabad on February 29, 2024. </span><div><span>FAROOQ NAEEM</span><span>AFP</span></div>
A supporter of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party wears a mask replicating Khan, during the inaugural session of the National Assembly, outside the parliament house building in Islamabad on February 29, 2024.

FAROOQ NAEEMAFP

The mask-throwing stunt was widely covered by Pakistan media.

The News International reported that National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered the person who threw the mask to be identified (archived link).

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