The image has been doctored from a photo showing a black flag

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A photo has surfaced on Facebook and Twitter in posts claiming it shows members of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a group advocating for the rights of the Pashtun ethnic group in Pakistan, waving the Indian flag at a protest in March 2021. The claim is false; the image has been doctored to include the Indian flag. The original photo shows a black flag which the PTM claims is a symbol of the movement’s struggles.

The photo was posted here on Twitter on March 28, 2021. The caption reads: “PTM [Pashtun Tahafuz Movement] terrorist's are now openly waving Indian flag. Their dirty face is now exposed. Pashtun rejects these Indian snakes.... #PahstunrejectPTM #PashtunLongMarch2Islamabad”.

Screenshot of the post with the doctored image. Taken on March 31, 2021.

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), founded in 2018, campaigns for the rights of ethnic Pashtuns affected by Pakistan’s war against the Taliban in its northwest.

The group is known for its direct verbal attacks on the Pakistani army, which it accuses of abuse and extrajudicial killing against Pashtuns, Al Jazeera reported here.

Tribesmen from the town of Janikhel in Pakistan’s Pashtun-heavy northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), marched towards Islamabad, the nation’s capital, demanding justice following a week of protests over four teenagers found dead. The boys’ families claim they had been tortured by Pakistani security forces, Pakistani media outlet Dawn News reported here.

The same image has been shared on Facebook here, here, here, and here; and on Twitter here.

The image, however, has been doctored. A reverse image search found the original image posted here on March 28, 2021 by Mohsin Dawar, a leading member of the PTM and a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly. 

The post’s caption reads: “Participants of Jani khel dharna [protest march] marching towards Islamabad, we are on the way to join them in a while. #PashtunLongMarch2Islamabad ـ #JaniKhelLongMarch2Islamabad.”

Below is a comparison of the doctored image (L) and the original (R):

A comparison of the post with the doctored image (L) and the original image (R). Taken on March 31, 2021.

According to a PTM Twitter account in the Netherlands, “the plain all black and all white flags of #PTM are symbol of our recent history and what we #Pashtuns stand for. Black: our oppressed state, deprived of every right including the right to live. White: nonviolent peaceful struggle.”