OPERATED BY CEJ

True

FACT-CHECKED

by CEJ |

Fake website is providing incorrect information of PTI-backed candidates

On January 24, 2024, PTI officials claimed that a fake web portal was created purporting to provide information about independent candidates backed by the party. The assertion is true.

Claim

Fake website on information for PTI-affiliated independent candidates

Rating Justification

The iVerify Pakistan team has checked this content and has established that it is true since the candidate information provided by the website is not corroborated by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) or the PTI’s records. 

To arrive at this verdict, the iVerify Pakistan team has crosschecked the information of some independent candidates with the ECP’s list, Imran Khan’s official Facebook page and then checked it on the alleged fake website.

HOW IT STARTED

On January 24, 2024, PTI activist Azhar Mashwani posted on social media platform X that the party’s official web portal for information on party-backed independent candidates contesting the polls was pticandidates.com.

“A couple of people are trying to spread misinformation by creating a website with a similar name,” he said, pointing out that the URL for the official portal contained ‘candidates’ while the alleged fake one had ‘candidate’.

Moreover, PTI social media head Jibran Ilyas also reiterated the same in an X post on Jan 24. “Fake site has been created by some cheaters with wrong candidate info. The domain with ‘candidates’ is correct, fake one doesn’t have the ‘s in candidates,” he said.

METHODOLOGY

The iVerify Pakistan team sought to determine the veracity of the claim since it is a matter of public importance ahead of the February 8 general elections and could spread confusion among voters about their desired candidates.

The team investigated the alleged fake portal to determine if the information provided was corroborated by the ECP’s official candidate lists issued on Jan 21, the PTI’s official list of candidates contesting on National Assembly (NA) seats or information provided by messaging on Imran’s official Facebook account.

Searching for Karachi’s NA-241 constituency yielded Khurram Sher Zaman with the symbol of the ‘dhol’ on both the alleged web portal as well as Imran’s Facebook account.

The same was further corroborated by checking with the ECP’s official NA candidate list from Sindh as well.

However, further searches showed conflicting information between that provided by the alleged fake website and that provided by Imran’s Facebook page, the ECP lists and the PTI’s official candidate list.

Searching for Lahore’s NA-119 constituency showed Nadeem Altaf Khan Sherwani with the symbol of the ‘cricket stumps’ from the website. However, Imran’s Facebook page showed Shahzad Farooq with the symbol of the ‘tricycle’.

The ECP list also showed Farooq as an independent candidate for NA-119 with the symbol of the ‘tricycle’.

Searching for Narowal’s NA-75 constituency showed Talha Anees with the symbol of the ‘charpai’ from the website while Imran’s Facebook page showed Dr Tahir Ali Javed with the symbol of the ‘charpai’.

The ECP list also showed Javed as an independent candidate for NA-75 with the symbol of the ‘charpai’.

Searching for Mandi Bahauddin’s NA-68 constituency showed Haji Imtiaz with the symbol of the ‘cricket stumps’ from the website while Imran’s Facebook page showed Haji Imtiaz with the symbol of the ‘aeroplane’.

The ECP list also showed Imtiaz as an independent candidate for NA-68 with the symbol of the ‘aeroplane’.

Searching for Gujranwala’s NA-81 constituency showed Bilal Ejaz with the symbol of the ‘keychain’ from the website while Imran’s Facebook page showed Bilal Ejaz with the symbol of the ‘plug’.

The ECP list also showed Ejaz as an independent candidate for NA-81 with the symbol of the ‘plug’.

Searching for Lahore’s NA-123 constituency showed Tazeem Azeem Pahat with the symbol of the ‘laptop’ from the website while Imran’s Facebook page showed Advocate Afzaal Azeem Pahat with the symbol of the ‘radio’.

However, the ECP list showed both as independent candidates with the symbols of the ‘laptop’ and the ‘radio’, respectively.

To resolve the conundrum, the team cross-checked the PTI’s official list of its affiliated independent candidates for the NA which mentioned Afzaal as the candidate for NA-123.

Searching for Faisalabad’s NA-101 constituency showed Nadeem Aftab Sindhu with the symbol of the ‘radio’ from the website while Imran’s Facebook page showed Rana Atif with the symbol of the ‘bottle’.

The ECP list also showed Atif as an independent candidate for NA-101 with the symbol of the ‘bottle’.

As per the findings of Whoxy.com, which identifies who owns a domain, the pticandidate.com website was registered on the name of James Peter, residing in New York city.

The internet record listing also showed that the registrant of the domain belongs to an internet company in Japan, GMO Internet INC.

The pticandidate.com domain was registered on Jan 21.

The website was no longer operational as of Jan 27.

PTI PORTALS FOR CANDIDATE INFORMATION

With the general elections only two weeks away, it is important to note that PTI-affiliated candidates are contesting the elections independently with different election symbols assigned by the ECP following a Jan 13 judgment by the Supreme Court stripping the party of its electoral symbol of the ‘bat’.

With no single party symbol to contest under, the separate symbols have raised concerns about creating confusion for voters.

To resolve the issue, the PTI launched a number of steps to provide information to voters about independent candidates affiliated with it.

Mashwani on Jan 23 had announced the relaunch of the party’s web portal for voters to find the independent candidates affiliated with the party.

The party had also announced on Jan 24 that messaging constituencies to Imran’s official Facebook page would show the corresponding PTI-affiliated independent candidate.

CONCLUSION

The iVerify Pakistan team has concluded that the examination of the above constituencies between all the various sources showcased that the PTI’s allegation about the web portal being fake holds ground and is true.

The information from the portal not only showed differing candidates from those mentioned in the ECP and PTI lists, but also showed a repetition of election symbols.

With the official release of the candidate lists from the electoral watchdog, the website continued to provide incorrect and contradictory information.

Evidence and References

Official National Assembly candidate list Issued by ECP on January 21, 2024:
https://x.com/ECP_Pakistan/status/1749066515125506502?s=20

List of PTI-affiliated independent candidates for National Assembly:
https://www.scribd.com/document/700869684/Version-16-National-Assembly-List-of-PTI-Candidates-GE2024