AI Clone Takes Reigns for Jailed Pakistani Ex-Leader Amid Rally Ban

  • Imran Khan, Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister, has used a voice clone created with artificial intelligence to deliver a public campaign speech.
  • Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has been banned from holding public rallies. They used the AI voice clone coupled with an AI-generated image of Khan to create a digital avatar that addressed an online rally.
  • Although PTI officials maintained that Khan approved the written speech from prison, the internet broadcast of the speech experienced notable disruptions.
  • Khan, jailed on corruption charges, was removed from power after losing a confidence vote. His supporters’ protests against his arrest led to a crackdown on physical gatherings.

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, leveraged artificial intelligence technology to address the public amid a ban on his party conducting public rallies. Khan, jailed since August due to corruption charges, used an AI-generated voice clone and image to create a digital avatar that delivered a campaign speech in a virtual rally.

Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), turned to this innovative approach owing to the current restriction that disallows them from holding public gatherings. PTI officials stated that Khan, despite being in prison, approved the text of the speech, which was then conveyed via livestream. However, this livestream experienced significant disruptions, raising questions about potential censorship.

NetBlocks, an online watchdog, claimed that these disruptions were reminiscent of previous instances of internet censorship targeting Khan and PTI. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s telecoms regulator stated that the interruptions were being investigated.

Khan, who lost power following a confidence vote, has been facing extensive legal battles, with some trials taking place behind closed doors in jail—a practice opposed by legal experts due to concerns over fair treatment.

The novel approach adopted by Khan and PTI underlines the potential role of artificial intelligence to preserve the democratic process, particularly in circumstances of censorship and restriction.