Imran Khan: Behind Bars, Voices Support through AI

  • Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, currently behind bars, delivered a speech to supporters via artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The speech, written by Khan, was read out by an AI voice at a virtual rally organised by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
  • The move raised concerns about fairness of upcoming elections, with Pakistani authorities allegedly disrupting internet speeds and limiting social media access ahead of the rally.

Imran Khan, the jailed former Prime Minister of Pakistan, used artificial intelligence (AI) to reach out to his supporters at an online rally arranged by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), titled ‘virtual powershow’. Khan’s speech, lasting just four minutes and authored by him, was aired in a synthesized voice that imitated his own at the end of the five-hour-long event. Within 12 hours of being posted, the speech had already gathered over 1.5 million views on YouTube.

PTI’s social media chief, Jibran Ilyas, stated that the AI-version of the speech was a “no-brainer”, pointing out that no PTI political rally would feel complete without Khan’s presence. Amid praises for the historic attempt, the AI-voiced Khan emphasized the troubling times his supporters and their families are experiencing, with kidnappings and harassments being allegedly carried out by the authorities.

However, the move was met with reduced internet speeds and limited access to social platforms, allegedly executed by the Pakistani authorities to undermine the potential influence of the online event. These issues, combined with allegations of constituency borders being manipulated to favour Khan’s opponent, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have sparked concerns about the fairness of the country’s upcoming elections in February.

Khan, overthrown by the powerful military establishment in April 2022, was considered the nation’s most popular politician as of March, despite the corruption charges that led to his arrest in August and subsequent three-year prison sentence. Khan was kept behind bars even after being granted bail, as he faces charges of allegedly leaking classified documents, an accusation he argues is politically motivated.