ISLAMABAD—The tussle to oust Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will likely be decided within days. For the winner, the much bigger challenge ahead will be to fix an economic crisis that threatens to leave the country unable to pay its debts.

Fueled by the war in Ukraine, surging oil and food prices have worsened Pakistan’s ballooning trade deficit and pushed up the cost of living for the country’s 220 million people. Mr. Khan’s efforts to soften the impact through state subsidies and tax breaks have compounded the problem by jeopardizing a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

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