Imran Khan posts AI video declaring victory in Pakistani election as candidates backed by his party win most seats despite him being behind bars and communications blackout
Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan claimed victory in the country’s general election on Friday in an audio-visual message created with artificial intelligence and shared on his X social media account.
In the message, usually delivered verbatim by his lawyers, the AI version of Khan rejected rival and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s earlier claim of victory.
Khan called on his supporters to celebrate a victory achieved despite what he called a crackdown on his party, telling them: ‘I had faith in you. Your massive rise scared everyone. No one can stop us. Don’t be afraid. Four.’
Independent candidates backed by Khan won the most seats in Thursday’s national election, despite him being jailed for an illegal marriage and his party banned from the polls.
They defied pollsters, who said a military-backed campaign of mass arrests and harassment would lead to the victory of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), a party backed by Sharif, and oust him. rate will place for a fourth term as prime minister.
Imran Khan (pictured) has called on his supporters to celebrate a victory achieved despite what he calls a crackdown on his party
A supporter of convicted former prime minister Imran Khan wears a hat celebrating his party
So far, independent candidates backed by Imran Khan have won the most seats
But the independent candidates won 98 of the 265 contested seats, enough to make up the largest bloc in the country’s parliament, but not enough for an outright majority.
Pakistan Muslim League-N won a total of 66 seats, while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by the son of a former prime minister who was assassinated, took 51 seats.
At the time of publication, 25 seats have gone to other parties, while a further 42 have yet to be nominated.
The race for one seat was postponed after a candidate was killed. The final results are expected to be announced at midnight local time.
Sharif claimed victory after saying PML-N will approach PPP and other parties to form a ruling coalition.
His claim comes just a day after he rejected the idea of a coalition government.
It is not known whether PPP will accept the deal as its leader has heavily criticized PML-N on the campaign trail.
The UK, the US and the EU have all expressed serious concerns about the way the election was conducted in Pakistan.
Pakistan cut off all mobile and data services across the country on election day, in a move widely condemned.
The home ministry said: ‘precious lives have been lost’ in recent militant attacks and the ‘security measures (were) essential to maintain the law and order situation and to deal with potential threats.’
Two political candidates were shot dead in the run-up to the national election, while a further 28 were killed in twin bomb blasts carried out by Islamic State outside the offices of political candidates.
Voters in Pakistan must rely on a state-run text message service to confirm where at which polling stations they are registered to vote.
Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (pictured, right) next to his daughter Maryam Nawaz (pictured, left)
Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
NetBlocks, a global internet watchdog, said data confirmed there was disruption to mobile and internet services on election day
NetBlocks, a global internet watchdog, said data confirmed there had been a disruption of mobile and internet services ‘corroborating widespread user reports of outages’.
“The ongoing internet outage on election day in Pakistan is among the largest we have observed in any country in terms of severity and scale,” Alp Toker, director of NetBlocks, told AFP.
‘The practice is inherently undemocratic and is known to limit the work of independent election observers and cause irregularities in the voting process.’
There were also allegations that political activists were arrested in the run-up to the election.
Lord David Cameron, the UK’s foreign secretary, said in a statement today: ‘We acknowledge … serious concerns raised about the fairness and lack of inclusiveness of the elections. We regret that not all parties were formally allowed to contest the elections and that legal processes were used to prevent some political leaders from participating.’
The US has meanwhile called for an investigation into allegations that the election was interfered with by the military, with the State Department saying in a statement: ‘We condemn election violence … and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process. Allegations of interference or fraud must be fully investigated.’
The EU also joined calls for an official investigation into the elections, adding: We deplore the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, both online and offline, restrictions on access to the Internet, as well as allegations of serious interference in the electoral process, including arrests of political activists.’
Neighboring Iran, however, congratulated Pakistan on the election, with its foreign ministry saying it ‘wishes brotherly, friendly and neighboring Pakistan increasing prosperity’.
Soldiers were brought in to watch over the election
The election took place amid security measures, including mobile phone and internet restrictions
Earlier this week, Khan said his jail sentence was an ‘attempt to humiliate him’
Earlier this week, Khan said his prison sentence was an “attempt to humiliate him” and vowed he would “rather die” than make a deal with the authorities.
The former prime minister of Pakistan and his wife Bushra Bibi were sentenced to seven years in prison on Saturday after a court ruled that they violated the law that requires a woman to wait three months before remarrying.
Bibi was previously married to a man who claimed they divorced in November 2017, less than three months before she married Khan on January 1, 2018. Bibi said they were divorced in August 2017.
Khan described the conviction – his third in two weeks – as an attempt to ‘humiliate and shame’ him and his wife, adding that it was the first time in 14 years that someone had been jailed in Pakistan for ‘ an alleged illegal marriage.
The latest ruling follows another case in which Khan (71) and Bibi (49) were sentenced to 14 years in prison last Wednesday for corruption.
The former cricketer was also sentenced to 10 years in prison the day before yesterday for leaking state secrets. His sentences total 31 years, but they will be served concurrently.
Khan, who earlier called the convictions an attempt to undermine him politically, remained defiant, vowing he had not taken a deal and would “rather die” than cut one in the future, according to local media.
Bibi is Khan’s third wife, following Jemima Goldsmith, who was married to the former sportsman for nine years, and former BBC weather girl Reham Khan, who spent just 10 months with Khan.
Bibi and Khan have denied breaching the three-month waiting period – a requirement of Islamic law and enforced by Pakistan. Khan and his family maintain the trial is politically motivated.
More to follow.