Imran Khan uses AI video to claim victory in Pakistan election – as army chief says nation needs 'stable hands'

By Isaac M February 11, 2024

Jailed former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has claimed victory for his supporters in the country’s general election – via a video generated using artificial intelligence (AI).

The clip of the former cricket star was uploaded on social media on Friday just hours after his rival Nawaz Sharif also claimed to have won despite vote counting continuing.

Many candidates from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were forced to stand as independents in the election after an alleged crackdown which saw senior party figures jailed and their campaigning activities restricted.

In the video, Khan is heard telling independent candidates to celebrate their win, while he also rejects Sharif’s declaration of victory.

“You have laid the foundation for your genuine freedom by voting yesterday,” he is heard saying. Sharif is also referred to as a “dishonourable man” for claiming victory.

With nearly 90% of the results in on Friday night, independent candidates backed by Khan’s PTI party had won 95 seats, while Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML) had secured 66 seats.

A total of 169 seats are required for a majority in the 336-seat assembly. Some 265 seats were up for grabs in Thursday’s poll.

It comes as Pakistan’s army chief, General Syed Asim Munir, congratulated the country for the “successful conduct” of its election, saying the nation needed “stable hands” to move on from the politics of “anarchy and polarisation”.

He said in a statement: “Elections are not a zero-sum competition of winning and losing but an exercise to determine the mandate of the people.

“Political leadership and their workers should rise above self-interests and synergise efforts in governing and serving the people which is perhaps the only way to make democracy functional and purposeful.

“As the people of Pakistan have reposed their combined trust in the Constitution of Pakistan, it is now incumbent upon all political parties to reciprocate the same with political maturity and unity.”

FILE - Pakistan army Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir attends a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2022. Pakistan is holding elections for a new parliament on Thursday. No less than 44 political parties are vying for a share of the 266 seats that are up for grabs in the National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament, with an additional 70 seats reserved for women and minorities. (AP Photo/W.K. Yousufzai, File)
General Syed Asim Munir. Pic: AP

The EU, UK and US have all cast doubt over the integrity of the vote, urging a probe into reported irregularities.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said there were “serious concerns” about the “fairness and lack of inclusivity of the elections” amid accusations of military interference and vote-rigging.

In a statement on Friday night, he added: “We regret that not all parties were formally permitted to contest the elections and that legal processes were used to prevent some political leaders from participation.”

During the election campaign, police blocked the PTI from holding rallies and opening offices, while the party was also banned from using its symbol – a cricket bat – to help illiterate voters find it on ballot papers.

Khan and other senior PTI figures were also jailed on what they claim were politically-motivated charges.

Read more:
A prisoner, a kingmaker and an unexpected return

Pakistan is in political limbo after election upset – so what’s next?

Pakistan is in political limbo after an election result that few in the establishment predicted.

Independent candidates backed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) have delivered a major upset. Many seemed to underestimate the level of discontent and desire for change in a country that’s experienced years of turbulence.

The army generals who have for decades dominated Pakistan looked far less in control now. Their presumed candidate, Nawaz Sharif, was the first to claim victory yesterday, declaring his party the largest. Technically, he was correct – the independents aren’t a party and don’t have a leader to run the country.

But Sharif also acknowledged he needs the support of others if he’s going to get a seat at the table and that’s certainly not guaranteed. Everyone needs each other because no one has a majority.

So what next?

Read Cordelia Lynch’s full analysis.

‘We don’t have enough of a majority’

After declaring victory on Friday, Sharif told reporters his younger brother, fellow former leader Shehbaz Sharif, would hold talks with other party leaders to discuss a way forward – just a day after he rejected the idea of joining forces with any of his rivals.

He admitted: “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.”

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Sky’s Cordelia Lynch has the latest as the results in the Pakistan elections come in

The former prime minister also urged victorious independent candidates to enter his potential coalition.

“I don’t want to fight with those who are in the mood for fighting,” he said. “We will have to sit together to settle all matters.”

He said the meetings would include talks with Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of assassinated ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto and father of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party – which is in third place so far with 51 seats.

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Polling officers count ballots in Karachi.
Pic: Reuteres
Polling officers count ballots in Karachi. Pic: Reuters

‘Interference in electoral process’

Sharif, who has been prime minister of Pakistan three times previously, returned to the country in October after four years of self-imposed exile, including time in London, to avoid serving several prison sentences.

But within weeks of his return, his convictions were overturned, leaving him free to seek a fourth term.

The election was held amid tight security, with thousands of troops deployed on the streets and at polling stations across the country.

Pakistan’s borders with Iran and Afghanistan were also temporarily closed as security was stepped up.

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‘Democracy in Pakistan is under scrutiny’

Police also said two people were killed and six were injured in the northwest district of Shangla after clashes broke out between Khan supporters and officers.

The US state department said the election had been carried out amid a backdrop of restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly.

Spokesperson Matthew Miller added: “We are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process.”

The European Union also called on authorities to ensure “a timely and full investigation” of all reported election irregularities.


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