Former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been in prison since August for illegally selling state gifts — but that hasn’t stopped him from campaigning. The leader’s political party released a four-minute video on Sunday evening that used AI-voice cloning technology to replicate his voice. In the video, which aired during a “virtual rally” in Pakistan, the dubbed audio is accompanied by a caption that states, “AI voice of Imran Khan based on his notes.”
Jibran Ilyas, a social media leader for Khan’s party (known as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI), posted the video on X.
The Guardian reported that Khan sent PTI a shorthand script, which was later edited by a legal team to better resemble the politician’s rhetorical style. The resulting text was then dubbed into audio using software from the AI company ElevenLabs, which makes a text-to-speech tool and an AI voice generator.
“This was a no-brainer for us, when Imran Khan is no longer there to actually meet at a political rally,” Ilyas told The Guardian. “It was to get over the suppression.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Khan supporters have lavished the video with praise on social media. Voicebot.ai reported that Khan’s social media team used archival footage from Khan’s older rallies and ElevenLab’s synthetic audio engine to clone the politician’s voice. The video is a mix of both historical footage and stock images.
The five-hour virtual rally drew more than 500,000 views on YouTube and was also streamed by thousands on other social media platforms. In order to prevent the public from viewing the virtual rally, the government of Pakistan shut down access to Facebook, Instagram, X, and YouTube on Sunday. According to a post on X by the internet tracking agency NetBlocks, there was a nationwide disruption to those social platforms across Pakistan on Sunday evening.