Video shows Pakistan’s former defence minister doused with ink in 2018, not new attack

An old video of Pakistan's former defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif being splattered with a black liquid has resurfaced in social media posts that falsely claim it shows the politician being attacked with ink "once again". Asif did have ink thrown on him in March 2018, but this video does not depict a copycat attack. Asif separately also told AFP the video depicts the incident from five years earlier.

"Khawaja Asif falls prey to an ink attack once again," reads the Urdu-language caption of a Facebook video shared more than 1,000 times since it was posted here on September 29, 2023.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif is a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party who has held numerous cabinet-level posts (archived link). His most recent position in government was minister of defence, which he held between April 2022 and August 2023.

The video appears to show Asif addressing a crowd when someone throws black ink at him, covering half his face and shirt.

Some of the crowd surround the attacker and angrily shout and swear at them.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken October 18, 2023.

Similar false posts on Facebook here, here and here were shared over 3,000 times.

Comments on the posts suggest some social media users believed the claim.

"It's very good that this happened to him," reads one comment.

Another said: "He deserves it."

Asif, however, told AFP the video does not show a recent incident.

"This incident took place in the 2018 general election campaign," he said on October 11. "Five years have passed and it has no political relevance."

As of October 23, there have been no official reports of Asif being the victim of another "ink attack".

Video from 2018

A reverse image search on Google using keyframes from the video led to clips of Asif being splattered with ink on March 10, 2018 at a PML-N party worker convention in the city of Sialkot.

Similar footage of the incident was shared by Dawn News on their official YouTube channel here on March 10, 2018 (archived link).

The video's title translates as "An unidentified individual threw ink at Khawaja Asif".

Below is a screenshot comparison between the video used in the false posts (left) and the Dawn News footage (right):

Screenshot comparison between the video used in the false posts (left) and the Dawn News footage (right)

News website Khabarwalay also shared longer footage of the incident filmed from a different angle on YouTube here on March 10, 2018 (archived link).

A Dawn News report said Asif, who was Pakistan's foreign minister at the time, had been addressing party workers when he was doused with black ink (archived link).

The report said the attacker was "roughed up" by enraged party workers before they handed him over to police. Asif, however, was quoted as saying he should be released.

The incident was one of a string of attacks on PML-N leaders at the time.

A month before Asif was doused with ink, the then-interior minister Ahsan Iqbal had a shoe hurled at him during an event in the city of Narowal (archived link).

PML-N party chief Nawaz Sharif -- a former prime minister -- was also struck with a shoe while he was addressing a crowd in Lahore on March 11, 2018 (archived link).

The perpetrators were widely condemned at the time (archived link).

Former prime minister Imran Khan, leader of the rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, said: "This is against our moral values.

"I want to tell both PTI workers and the public that throwing shoes or ink on people is not the right way [to protest]."

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