Imprisoned Imran Khan claims Pakistan election victory in AI video of himself

Imran Khan was first sentenced to three years in prison for corruption in August 2023. Credit: AP

The imprisoned former prime minister of Pakistan has claimed a general election victory for his party using a video message of himself generated using artificial intelligence.

Mr Khan's party used artificial intelligence to deliver a victory speech by the former prime minister. In the audio, the voice replicating Imran Khan’s congratulated his followers.

“I had faith in you. Your massive turnout frightened everyone. Nobody can stop us. Don't be scared. Celebrate,” the computer generated version of Mr Khan said.

He asked his supporters to celebrate the win in the digital announcement - despite his rival, Nawaz Sharif, who is also a former prime minister of Pakistan, having said he would seek to form a coalition government after the results.

Independent candidates backed by Mr Khan, who had headed the Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), had come out on top, followed by Mr Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party.

Imran Khan's party posted an AI-generated victory speech declaring victory in Pakistan's general election

The lack of a clear majority did not stop either of the former prime ministers from celebrating what they considered a victory, with relatives and loyalists of Mr Sharif making balcony appearances and appearing to celebrate.

Mr Khan himself was disqualified from running in the election on Thursday because of previous criminal convictions. He said that sentences and various legal cases against him were all politically motivated.

Mr Khan has been given four prison sentences so far, including a 10-year stint for leaking state secrets and seven years for violating the country's marriage law when he wed his wife in 2018.

When he was first sentenced to three years in prison for corruption in August 2023, it was the first sentence in more than 150 legal cases against the former PM.

The Pakistan People's Party, led by the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, were in third place at the time of writing, and its supporters were also seen celebrating their victory.

Supporters of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman of Pakistan People's Party dance to celebrate their party victory. Credit: AP

Mr Sharif had earlier in the day outright rejected the idea of forming a coalition, but later conceded that it would be impossible to create a government without the help of other parties.

“We don’t have enough of a majority to form a government without the support of others and we invite allies to join the coalition so we can make joint efforts to pull Pakistan out of its problems,” Mr Sharif said.

The independent candidates backed by Imran Khan had to run as independents because they were forbidden from using the Tehreek-e-Insaf party's symbol - a cricket bat, which is a nod to Mr Khan's illustrious sporting career - to help illiterate voters find them on ballot papers.

It is unlikely that there will be a strong coalition formed out of the results, given the turbulent political climate, which will do little to help the country's high inflation, frequent energy outages and military attacks.

Supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League party hold cutouts of its leader as they celebrate. Credit: AP

The elections process came under international scrutiny.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the elections included undue restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

“We condemn electoral violence, restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including attacks on media workers, and restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunication services, and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process,” Mr Miller said.

The European Union said it regretted the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections.

It called on authorities to ensure “a timely and full investigation” of all reported election irregularities.

Two people were killed and six injured in one district of Pakistan after clashes broke out between supporters of Mr Khan and officers. Hundreds of people had gathered to rally against vote rigging, while police officers swung batons and fired tear gas to disperse crowds.

Sporadic violence overshadowed the voting process on Thursday, along with nationwide mobile phone service shutdown.

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