The first publicly-accessible photo of the (now infamous) bag of flour, purportedly in Sindh, was posted on Facebook by a Sindhi poet. Exact timestamp: 10 September 2022 @ 11:52pm PST. Copy of archived link can be shared with accredited journalists only.
Observation: The author of the Facebook page is not a PTI nor PML-N supporter, but rather a prominent Sindhi nationalist known for his social activism and poetry.
Digital improvement of the picture enables the identification of certain items, in particular cartons of Shahbaz Ghee made by a firm in Sukkur (sold across Pak, not only Sindh). There are no exports to India. Washing powder and cigarette brands are very prominent and prevalent in Pakistan.
Shahbaz Ghee and other items made by its parent business were not located anywhere in India being advertised or sold. Significant indicator that the place is in Pakistan.
Even if geo-coordinates are embedded, Twitter and Facebook remove all EXIF data linked with submitted photographs, including EXIF data containing geo-coordinates. The only information shown is the kind of device used to submit the picture.
Therefore, the claim that ‘forensic data’ was derived from the photograph tying it to India is deceptive. For verification purposes, I inspected all Twitter and Facebook copies of this picture, as well as the original uploader on Facebook, but discovered nothing.
Uploaded Image Location:
Original uploader (Facebook) does not mention the location, although one Twitter user believes it was captured in Khairpur Kunab. We are unable to pinpoint where this photograph was shot. Speculation is futile.
Certain federal and provincial government entities assert that claims of UKAID’s donation of flour sacks are fabricated. NGO ‘HANDS Pakistan’ disagrees. Facebook postings dated 11 September 2022 indicate that HANDS and WFP established a camp in District Naushehro Feroz to distribute rations.
Images taken from the verified Facebook page of HANDS Pakistan dated 11 Sep 2022.
To clarify, UKAID (the United Kingdom) is not the sole nation financing WFP flour packets for flood victims. Canada is also a component. Example shown below.
Similarly, Japan is sponsoring yellow chick pea bags through WFP.
Context of the photograph that sparked this controversy between pro- and anti-PTI members. While there is no concrete proof to support this allegation, it is very feasible, theoretically speaking, that one of the receivers of the flour sack is a shopkeeper who merely posted a picture to show appreciation. We cannot assume the photo’s context simply because it was shot inside a store.
The photograph is authentic and originates from Pakistan. HANDS Pakistan’s website reveals that UKAID is among the funders of WFP’s precise 44g net weight wheat flour packets (Naushehro Feroze).
Facebook and Twitter have not permitted extraction of EXIF data as of yet (such as geo-coordinates, original timestamp etc). Therefore, a relationship between ‘forensic analysis’ and India is technically impossible.
No one can identify the IP address(es) of Twitter account administrators unless they are convinced to click a phishing link via social engineering. On social media, pro and anti-PTI factions are producing unneeded noise.
It is unprofessional for Geo News and other media outlets to broadcast without verification a so-called “fact check” on this photograph. Problematic is the lack of in-house fact-checking skills in Pakistani mainstream media.
This matter was needlessly blown out of proportion by trolls supported or friendly to the PTI. In times of national crisis, it is imperative that politics be set aside.
Certain anti-PTI forces (political opponents, media outlets) also responded negatively. Instead, it served as a catalyst to magnify the noise and divert attention to trivial matters. Audits for accountability may be done under more favorable conditions.
Political adversaries in Pakistan who quarrel over sensational charges made by untrained and fraudulent “investigators” are increasing social polarization and national discord via their aggressive behavior.
The prominent media organizations of Pak need skilled personnel for fact-checking. When a prominent media organization accepts unfounded “fact checks,” its editing procedures are called into question.
Fact-checking, OSINT are abilities that can be “done” by any Tom, Dick, or Harry, but few go through the rigors of recognized courses where their talents are reviewed by seasoned practitioners. Even among them, sadly, few adhere to objectivity.