The stunning election success of a party whose leader is in jail has set off a political crisis in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 240 million people.
The stakes are high: Pakistanis face soaring inflation and costs of living, frequent blackouts, resurgent terrorist attacks and tense relations with their neighbors.
Here are the critical figures competing for power.
Imran Khan: The jailed leader
Imran Khan, a former prime minister and cricket star, has been sentenced to 34 years in prison on charges that include leaking state secrets and unlawful marriage. He is barred from holding office, and his supporters call the charges, which he denies, an effort by the military to silence its leading critic.
Mr. Khan, 71, was ousted as prime minister in 2022 but staged a comeback, rallying young people with populist rhetoric and criticism of the dynastic families and military establishment that have dominated Pakistan for decades. In the election last week, candidates aligned with Mr. Khan won more seats in Parliament than any other group — but still fell short of forming a majority on their own.
Mr. Khan faces a legal labyrinth as he seeks to leave prison. Many experts believe his party is unlikely to assemble a governing coalition, given the military’s preference for its rivals and his tense relationships with the two other major parties.
But his party’s ability to organize support online has helped Mr. Khan persevere as a powerful influence. His party is challenging election results on the basis of widely reported irregularities in vote counting, and an A.I.-generated version of Mr. Khan declared victory on Saturday.
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