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A fruit vendor waits for customers in front of campaign posters of a political party, ahead of general elections, in Karachi, Pakistan, on Feb. 1, 2024.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Pakistan holds elections without Imran Khan

Resigned to the absence of the country’s most popular politician, Pakistanis will vote in elections on Thursday to choose their next government. Imran Khan, a former cricket star and prime minister, has been convicted on charges widely seen as trumped up by Pakistan’s powerful military and barred from holding public office. Though Pakistan is officially a democratic republic, its military plays an outsized role in the country’s politics, engineering elections in favor of its preferred leaders.

We asked Eurasia Group’s Rahul Bhatia and Pramit Pal Chaudhuri to explain.

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Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Hard Numbers: Imran Khan’s AI dub, Turkey's AI sector boost, Danish death forecasts, IBM’s big bet

4: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered a campaign speech on Sunday – from prison. Due to limitations in jail, he’s not able to campaign normally, and his party is banned from doing so on his behalf. So Khan wrote a four-minute speech that was recited by an AI trained on his voice to sound like him. It’s garnered more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.
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Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prepares to release a pigeon in front of supporters in Lahore after returning from self-imposed exile on Oct. 21, 2023.

REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

​Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan

With national elections looming in January, Pakistan’s politics just got more complicated as fugitive former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned Saturday from four years of self-imposed exile in London.

Sharif has been PM three times over the past 30 years. His first term ended by him being replaced by a military-backed president in 1993; his second saw him ousted in a coup in 1999, and his third saw Pakistan’s Supreme Court convict him of corruption in 2017. He then had his seven-year jail sentence suspended on medical grounds, permitting him to leave the country for treatment on the condition that he come back within four weeks, which he has not done until now.

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Supporters chant slogans as they gather for a protest following the arrest of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Peshawar, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

Imran Khan sentenced, Pakistan on edge

Former PM Imran Khan is bunking down in Pakistan’s notorious maximum security Attock prison after being found guilty of corruption. The court, which said he illegally concealed assets after selling state gifts, also banned the 70-year-old former cricket champ from running for office for five years. Khan may also lose the chairmanship of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

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