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Pakistan Reader# 710, 10 January 2024

The AI- controversy surrounding Imran Khan’s article



Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi raised objections to the fact that “the article in question has not been written by the former PTI chai

Dhriti Mukherjee

On 9 January, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf issued a clarification, stating that an article written by Imran Khan in The Economist was not compiled using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Published on 4 January, the article, titled “Imran Khan warns that Pakistan’s election could be a farce,” delves into the political situation in Pakistan, scrutinizing the legality of the caretaker governments and expressing scepticism about the upcoming elections. However, the controversy was stirred up when Khan made a surprising claim that the article was “AI-generated.”
 
What was Khan’s article about?
The article focused on two key issues. The first was on the elections. Khan highlighted the constitutional irregularities in the current Caretaker Government’s rule at both the federal and provincial levels, asserting that these “administrations are constitutionally illegal” since elections were not held within the mandated 90 days of parliamentary assemblies being dissolved. He questioned the announced date for the national elections, saying that the “tainted” election commission would only be able to conduct “farce” elections in the present political situation, where PTI has claimed that it does not have a level playing field. Khan added that the establishment, comprising the army, security agencies, and civil bureaucracy, is orchestrating a targeted campaign against the PTI.
 
The second issue was his ouster from the government, which he attributed to pressure from the US due to his push for an independent foreign policy and refusal to provide bases for American armed forces. He justified his decision to “be a friend to all” without being “anyone’s proxy for wars,” explaining that Pakistan had incurred “huge losses” as a result of its collaboration with America’s “war on terror.” The cipher controversy was also touched upon, with Khan claiming that the US had intended to “pull the plug” on his prime ministership, which then led to the toppling of his government.
 
Khan further detailed alleged attempts on his life, the abduction and incarceration of PTI leaders, and the intimidation of female party members to discourage their political participation. Despite these challenges, Khan asserted PTI’s popularity, citing a poll showing 66 per cent support, and highlighted the alleged attempts by the current government to undermine the party’s standing.
 
What was the controversy about?
On 8 January, the controversy surrounding Khan’s article emerged when he claimed, during proceedings inside Adiala Jail, that the “ghost article” published in The Economist was actually “AI-generated.” This sparked immediate debate among observers and political circles. A few days after the article caused controversy, Khan, while confirming the content aligned with his views, clarified that he did not personally write the piece. Though he took “full responsibility for the article,” he had “verbally dictated” the points. These were then allegedly put together using AI software.
 
Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi raised objections to the fact that “the article in question has not been written by the former PTI chairman.” Solangi also claimed that The Economist “misled its readers,” and that the federal government would “write a letter” to them. This led to a broader discussion about the feasibility of producing such an article while incarcerated. Digital rights expert Usama Khilji expressed doubt about Khan’s claim, suggesting that AI might have been used as a writing aid rather than being the sole generator of the content.
 
How did PTI respond to the controversy?
On 9 January, in response to the controversy, PTI denied the use of “artificial means including artificial intelligence” in the compilation of Khan’s article. The party released an official statement asserting that the article was “authored” by Khan and did not “reflect the actual state of facts regarding the matter.” Further, the statement called on the local media to “present the facts and carry this clarification in its true letter and spirit by publishing it.” Dawn additionally reported that sources close to Khan said that the facts presented in the article were drawn from information that was already available on social media.
 
References
Malik Asad, “AI used to write Economist piece, claims Imran,” Dawn, 9 January 2024
Imran’s essay not AI-generated, clarifies PTI,” The Express Tribune, 9 January 2024
Article published in The Economist authored by Imran, not compiled using AI: PTI,” Dawn, 9 January 2024
AI-generated or not? PTI clears air about Imran Khan’s The Economist article,” The News International, 9 January 2024
Imran Khan, “Imran Khan warns that Pakistan’s election could be a farce,” The Economist, 4 January 2024

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