Posts misrepresent photo of ex-Pakistan PM Khan greeting Erdogan in Pakistan

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Two photos have circulated online in social media posts that claim Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally greeted Pakistan's former premier Imran Khan at the airport when he visited Turkey, while the current Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was greeted by the Turkish defence minister. The posts -- shared hundreds of times -- are misleading. While the photo of Sharif has been shared in the correct context, the photo of Khan shows him greeting Erdogan in Pakistan, not Turkey, in 2020.

The two images were shared in this Urdu-language tweet on June 1, 2022.

The post translates to English as: "When Imran Khan went to Turkey, Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan came to receive him himself.

"Showbaz Sharif [Shehbaz Sharif] arrived in Turkey with 54 people and their local minister is greeting them."

The top image shows Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan shaking hands with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The bottom image shows current Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on June 8, 2022

The two nations have enjoyed strong relations, with Turkey backing Pakistan on the international stage -- particularly in the dispute with India over Kashmir.

Sharif assumed the mantle of Pakistan's premier in April after his coalition voted to remove cricket star turned populist politician Imran Khan from office.

Khan has since staged massive rallies against the fragile coalition government, sometimes mockingly referring to Sharif as "Showbaz".

The two photos were shared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here and here; and on Twitter here, here and here.

However, the photo of Khan with Erdogan has been shared in a misleading context.

Erdogan visits Pakistan

A reverse image search found the photo posted on Twitter here on February 13, 2020 by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

It shows Erdogan meeting Khan in Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

"President of Turkey His Excellency @RTErdogan has reached Islamabad. Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI received him at Nur Khan Airport Base #WelcomeErdoganToPakistan #Turkey #Pakistan @trpresidency," the tweet's English-language caption reads.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (left) and the image from PTI (right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the false posts (left) and the image from PTI (right)

The photo can also be seen in this report by Turkish broadcaster TRT World from February 13, 2020.

"Erdogan will co-chair a high-level meeting with Khan during his visit — the fourth since 2002, and second since he became president," the report reads.

Sharif in Turkey

The second photo can be seen in this report published by state news agency Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) on May 31, 2022.

The headline reads: "PM Shehbaz arrives in Turkey on three-day official visit".

The caption reads: "PM Shehbaz Sharif received by Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on arrival in Ankara on May 31, 2022."

The photo is credited to the Pakistan government's Twitter account and can be seen here.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (left) and the photo in the APP report (right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (left) and the photo in the APP report (right)

It was Sharif's first official visit to Turkey since becoming prime minister. 

Although he was greeted at the airport by the Turkish defence minister, Sharif met Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara the next day, as shown in this AFP photo published by Arab News, an English-language newspaper based in Saudi Arabia. 

AFP has debunked a wave of misinformation following Khan's removal from office, including a similar photo comparison of London bus ads purportedly shown during the two leaders' tenures.