A video showing a Pakistani pastor condemning the recent attacks on Christians in eastern Pakistan is being shared with a false claim that the woman is Lesley Ann Middlecoat daughter of late Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat of the Pakistan Air Force.
Several churches have been vandalised and Christian houses set on fire in Jaranwala, Faisalabad in eastern Pakistan over allegations of blasphemy and desecration of the Quran against two local Christians. Read more about it here.
In the 44 second clip, a visibly distressed woman speaks about the recent attacks on Christians in Pakistan. She says the Christian community is being humiliated and their lives made difficult by leveling false allegations against them. She also says several churches, bibles and houses have been torched in the violence.
"Are we not Pakistani? Why are you making Pakistan into India? Why is a situation like Manipur being created in Pakistan?", the woman asks rhetorically.
The clip was posted by X (formerly Twitter) user Arun Pudur (@arunpudur) with the caption, "Some Context about this Viral video of a Pakistani Christian Pastor. She is daughter of Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat, a decorated fighter Pilot of the Pakistan Air Force. He fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars against India. In many interviews she said she was proud of how her father fought against Hindus..." (sic)
The second half of the caption makes various communal claims against the Christian community.
BOOM also received the viral video on our WhatsApp helpline number (+91 77009 06588) with the same misleading claim.
BOOM found that the woman in the viral video is Pakistani Pastor Ghazala Shafiq and not Lesley Ann Middlecoat daughter of late Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat (July 6, 1940 - December 12, 1971) was a Pakistani fighter pilot in the PAF who was involved in a number of aerial battles during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistan wars, before his plane was shot down on December 12, 1971 by the Indian Air Force.
Taking a hint from the viral video, we ran a keyword search and found the interview of Pastor Ghazala Shafiq posted on X by BBC Urdu journalist Riaz Sohail Janjhi with the caption when translated from Urdu reads, "Civil society protest in Karachi against Faisalabad attack, Why is Pakistan being turned into India, Pastor Ghazala Shafiq's question"
The same sequence of events can be seen in this video interview posted on August 16, 2023, identifying the woman on camera as Pastor Ghazala Shafiq.
We also found Pastor Ghazala Shafiq's official Facebook page where she had also posted the same video. Shafiq is a Founder and Pastor at First Church of Eunuchs in Karachi, Pakistan.
We can also see her press conference on the Jaranwala incident on August 17, 2023, where she is identified as Pastor Ghazala Shafique. Shafique is a lawyer by profession.
BOOM reached out to Pastor Ghazala Shafique, the article will be updated upon receiving a response.
We also found an old interview of Lesley Ann Middlecoat uploaded on YouTube back in 2015, where she talks about her deceased father Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat who was a PAF pilot and had died in action during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. This is the interview that is being referred to in the viral message about Lesley Ann Middlecoat falsely misidentifying Pastor Ghazala Shafique as Middlecoat.
We also found an article published in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn on Lesley Ann Middlecoat and the late Wing Commander Mervyn Leslie Middlecoat published on December 12, 2021. The article mentions that Middlecoat has a career in Human Resources which contradicts the viral message that she is a pastor.
Click here to view
A comparison of photos of Pastor Ghazala Shafique and Lesley Ann Middlecoat can be seen below.