Video of Indian singer shared in false posts about storied confidant of Pakistan's late ruler Yahya Khan

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A video of a woman singing a Hindi-language song has been shared in social media posts that falsely claim it shows an influential Pakistani woman who held sway over a past military ruler and controlled key civil and military appointments. The woman in the video is in fact an Indian singer, who has expressed displeasure over her work being credited to someone else.

The 59-second video was posted here on Facebook on January 4, 2023 and has since been viewed more than 4,100 times.

The Urdu caption on the post reads: "A memorable video of Ms Aqleem Akhtar alias General Rani.

"She was the most powerful woman in Pakistan’s history as her nod could promote someone in the military to the rank of commander. She was the only woman in the history of Pakistan who used to attend meetings with the military top brass."

Akhtar, who died in 2002, was known for her close relationship with military ruler Yahya Khan in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

There are no official records on Akhtar, but some accounts, published here and here by the Newsline magazine and Dawn newspaper, portray her as an influential woman in Pakistan's history.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on January 18, 2023

The same video was also shared elsewhere on Facebook here and here; and on Twitter here, here and here.

Many commenters seemed to believe it was Akhtar singing in the video.

"Old General Rani," wrote one Facebook user.

"She has a good voice," wrote another.

But the claim the video shows the late Akhtar is false. The video shows an Indian playback singer -- an artist whose singing is dubbed over an actor’s in films -- named Priyanka Barve.

A reverse image search on Google led to a video posted on Instagram here on September 27, 2018 showing Barve paying tribute to legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar on her birthday by singing one of her songs.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video falsely shared in social media posts (left) and the video Barve posted on Instagram in 2018 (right):

Screenshot comparison of the false post (left) and Barve's post (right)

In another Instagram post published on April 30, 2019, Barve expressed her disappointment at seeing her singing being credited to someone else.

Barve's post reads in part: "It's a weird feeling that your video is getting viral under some other name. Many of my friends and wellwishers have sent me this. Thank you for letting me know.

"If you do come across this post, please give the correct info, that’s the only way to stop it."