Fact-check: PML-N did use government-run buses on October 21, but not for free
Four officials in Gilgit-Baltistan have confirmed that buses were indeed rented out by the Pakistan Muslim League-N to transport people from Gilgit-Baltistan to Lahore on October 21
Updated Wednesday Nov 01 2023
A picture has been shared online multiple times showing a government bus transporting supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to a political rally organised for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, Punjab, on October 21 after he returned from self-imposed exile.
The posts are misleading, as they omit important context.
An October 22 post on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, shared an image with the caption, “State journalists and hypocrites will tell you that the public came out in droves, but pictures will tell you how the government machinery, including official vehicles were used [to transport] the crowd.”
The photograph purportedly shows a bus belonging to the government-run Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO) transporting men holding flags belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The post has been viewed over 30,000 times on X, shared 900 times and liked over 1,700 times.
Four officials in Gilgit-Baltistan have confirmed that three buses were indeed rented out by the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) to transport people from Gilgit-Baltistan to Lahore on October 21, but not for free.
Ehsan Shah, the public relations officer at the Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO), a bus service run by the government of Gilgit-Baltistan, told Geo Fact Check over the phone that the transport company allows political parties to rent its vehicles.
“We do not give [buses] for free,” he said, “NATCO is a government-owned company. Anyone from any [political] party who pays can rent [the buses].”
While Abdul Munaf, a manager at NATCO, said that one bus was hired by PML-N’s local leadership in Chilas, Gilgit-Baltistan, after paying Rs160,000.
He further explained that in the past NATCO buses have also been hired by the leadership of other political parties as well, such as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
He also shared with Geo Fact Check the receipt of the payment made for transporting PML-N workers from Chilas to Lahore and back.
Obaidullah, a manager at NATCO, told Geo Fact Check that another bus bearing the registration number plate GLTA-5844, a picture of which was circulating on social media, was hired by PML-N after paying Rs150,000.
Separately, Mohammad Anwar, the minister for agriculture and livestock and fisheries in Gilgit Baltistan, who is also a local leader of PML-N, further confirmed that the buses were paid for.
With additional reporting by Fayyaz Hussain.
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