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Pakistan’s jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed an online rally this week using a clip crafted by artificial intelligence, a first-of-its-kind event ahead of the country’s elections next year, Reuters reported.

Based on a written speech Khan approved in prison, the clip featured audio made by AI replicating his voice and an animated picture of the politician matching the sound. In his message, he urged his supporters to mobilize at the next general election, set to take place on Feb. 8.

It was played during a virtual rally of his party that received more than 1.4 million views on YouTube and was attended by tens of thousands on other social media platforms.

Many viewers, however, complained that the Internet speeds kept dropping during the live broadcast. Pakistan’s telecoms regulator said they would probe the disruptions.

Ahead of the February poll, Khan’s party is forbidden from holding public rallies, while national media are asked not to mention him following his imprisonment earlier this year.

Once a celebrated cricket star and the winner of the 2018 general election, Khan was deposed following a successful vote of no-confidence last year. He is now serving a three-year sentence for corruption and faces dozens of other cases.

His supporters claimed that Sunday’s disruptions to the Internet were a move to completely silence his party, amid an election campaign that observers suspect is being steered by the government to favor Khan’s opponents.

Meanwhile, another convicted former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was acquitted on all corruption charges last week, Voice of America reported.

Sharif – who served three times as Pakistan’s prime minister – had fled to London to avoid prison. He returned in October. The recent federal court decision to clear him paved the way for his running for a fourth term.

Nonetheless, like Khan, Sharif is still involved in other cases – and of the two politicians, both facing legal challenges, Pakistanis appear to prefer Khan.

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