TFD Stocks Overview

Artificial intelligence (AI) & election campaigns in Pakistan

Reaching the public and conveying messages to ordinary individuals through social media networks may seem straightforward. Addressing the public through political Jalsas or election rallies makes communication easy. The use of media is also the most effective way to reach a message to a larger audience, including newspapers, radio, and television, with digital and social media platforms being crucial in today’s era. Across the world, there are numerous examples of successful election campaigns utilizing these mediums. During the Arab Spring, social media played an unparalleled role in mobilizing people in Tunisia and Egypt. Similarly, in Turkey in 2016, President Erdogan prepared his people for a reaction through social media when a revolution occurred.
In Pakistan’s political landscape, various political parties use social media, but the way Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) organized its social media team and made it an integral part of its election campaign is remarkable. PTI’s social media team faced a tough test when their government was ousted in April 2022, and mobilizing the public and handling a significant task became challenging. Despite the opposition gaining power, traditional media doors were slowly closing for them. Nevertheless, PTI kept its social media team dynamic and active, organizing numerous gatherings across the country, including rallies held on short notice. Their performance in various by-elections during this period, where they achieved success, highlights the effectiveness of their social media team.
Just as PTI’s leadership faced challenges in politics, their social media team also faced criticism, and they had to deal with legal proceedings. There was a perception that PTI’s social media team members were regular salaried employees, leading to job closures for them. However, even after that, there was no noticeable impact on their performance.
PTI’s top leadership, including former Chairman Imran Khan, was confined to their homes in Lahore for several months, making it difficult to meet them. During this time, PTI’s social media team remained active on various networks. The performance of PTI’s social media team is a case study that requires systematic research, which I will discuss in detail at the end of the article.
However, I want to first mention the most challenging period for them when the events of May 9 unfolded, and direct accusations were made against former Chairman Imran Khan. In connection with this, FIRs are still being filed, and they are facing legal proceedings. During this time, attempts were made to disrupt their social media team’s network. Many of their leaders are imprisoned, and meeting them became difficult. Despite this, PTI’s leaders were holding Zoom meetings to mobilize the public. However, the lack of success was evident due to the absence of possibilities.
After the announcement of the election, it was expected that their leader would start the public contact campaign, but it did not happen. In such circumstances, PTI accepted the situation as a challenge. When their electoral symbols were also taken away, and a new Chairman had to be brought in, PTI announced an online worldwide event. It was a significant test for PTI’s social media team when their central leader was in jail, and access was not possible. Many of their other activists were also in jail, making it difficult for leaders to participate in elections. In such a situation, their leaders were trying to mobilize the public by holding online Zoom meetings, but the lack of success was evident.
The Virtual Power Show, as it was called, will be remembered as a monumental achievement of PTI’s social media team, seen live on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter worldwide. The virtual event lasted for five hours, but there were reports of disrupting the internet in Pakistan, and complaints about slowing down social media platforms. The most important section of this virtual power show, held on December 17, 2023, was Imran Khan’s message spread through artificial intelligence. Imran Khan gave his message in written form from jail, which PTI’s social media team published using AI, spreading Imran Khan’s message in his voice worldwide. While social media has been used in politics for years, using AI effectively is the beginning of a new era.
International media reported Imran Khan’s AI-crafted speech in a highlighted manner, surprisingly, in a country where there were reports of disrupting internet services. Opposition leaders conversing with Imran Khan’s opponents in this way, especially when the internet was allegedly being disrupted, showed that they considered the number of views significant. However, the international media reported the use of artificial intelligence as the most important news. A speech by such a leader, who has been in jail for several months, seemed to have crossed barriers that no one expected PTI to break.
I want to bring one thing to the forefront in this article that although PTI’s social media team was designated as salaried, their work proved that they are ideological workers who cannot be stopped from working even in difficult situations. The second reason for PTI’s success is the best network of overseas Pakistanis, and their association with PTI is not dependent on any lure.
The result of PTI’s social media team’s performance is that obstacles are being created to prevent PTI from participating freely in elections. Because their effectiveness creates fear among opponents, suppressing the majority opinion may be possible in many ways, but the use of artificial intelligence in the Virtual Power Show sent a message worldwide that technology can overcome all obstacles caused by the compulsion of circumstances. This message is for the nations facing oppression and coercion. Surely, this is a technological revolution that will open up new paths for success. PTI’s social media team has created a new path, opened a window in the wall, which will reduce the confinement of coercion.