The emergence of the PTI as the third major political force and Imran’s graduation from a political novice into a political leader in his own right was likened to a whiff of fresh air on the muddled political landscape of Pakistan and a welcome addition to democratic forces by political analysts and the intelligentsia. But within a year, he has proven that he and his party were neither of the two. Instead, he has transformed into just another politician with the sole aim of reaching the corridors of power by all means.

His style and brand of politics are terribly out of sync with emerging political realities, and as he runs amok with wild speculations and unsubstantiated convulsions to impress his audience, he remains unmindful of the fact that he is a political player under the gaze of an intrusive, independent media and a well informed public who will not accept propaganda. A case in point was his address at the Bahawalpur rally wherein he threatened that if his demands for verifying votes in four constituencies was not met, he would start a tsunami against the government from August 14th.

It was deeply puzzling to see him taking umbrage at the government when the issues related to the Election Tribunals and the Election Commission were pending. Inciting agitation against the government, with an ostensible design to destabilize it at a time when it is fighting a decisive war against terrorists and when our soldiers need the unqualified and unstinted support of all segments of society, sabotages the national effort. Politicking can wait for better times. Even his four questions put to the government were based on mere assumptions rather than solid corroborative evidence, as succinctly explained by information minister Pervez Rashid.

There is no denying the fact that it was on Imran’s demand that the judicial officers were appointed as Returning Officers and he is on record expressing his confidence in the judiciary in this regard. He had also been eulogizing the role of the former Chief Justice in dispensing justice and promoting the culture of accountability in the country. Now, completely backtracking on the issue and casting aspersion on the former Chief Justice was untenable. His insistence that Najam Sethi played a role in winning 35 seats for the PML(N) where the results were changed, also seems a preposterous suggestion in view of the fact that the returning officers were from the judiciary and not the administration under the caretaker Chief Minister, who could be influenced or coerced to manipulate results. The proposition makes no sense at all and Imran Khan has never come up with any real evidence to prove his allegations.

Asking questions about the role of the caretakers in elections from the PML(N) government is an irrelevant exercise. The elections were held under the auspices of the Election Commission headed by Fakhru Bhai whose appointment was hailed by Imran Khan at the time. The caretaker government was only responsible for creating a congenial atmosphere for the conduct of elections and maintaining law and order. The buck in this regard ultimately stopped with the Election Commission. Under prevailing circumstances, the inference one could draw from what Imran had been saying and doing was that he did not trust any institution of the state and had no faith in democratic pursuits. That does not augur well for the future of democracy in the country. He is undoubtedly on the wrong track.

Imran must understand the great difference between skippering a cricket team and managing political affairs on the national level which require traits like determination, resilience and commitment to national causes. It was shocking at the Bahawalpur rally, to hear him say that he would personally hang any policemen who dared to fire at PTI workers. This is a politically immature fulmination by a man who has been crying hoarse from every convenient roof top to establish his democratic credentials and bring civility to Pakistani politics. He would be better advised to pursue the early disposal of the election petitions filed by the PTI at the proper forums and to stop blaming the wrong parties or indulging in mud-slinging; a pursuit which will only scuttle his credibility and reduce him to the status of a political non-entity.

There is no doubt that the system of governance prevalent in the country and the way we elect our leaders needs to change. There is almost a national consensus on this point. The government has shown receptiveness to the idea of electoral reform and a parliamentary committee is being set up to look into the issue. If the idea is to ensure rigging-free elections in the future, which Imran cites as a reason for his agitation, then the best course for him and his party is to play its role in the deliberations of the parliamentary committee and within parliament. Settling political issues on the streets is a disruptive exercise and negates democratic and constitutional norms. Our politicians must show maturity by adopting a futuristic approach with regards to consolidating the gains of democracy and warding off the dangers lurking on the national horizon. That is the course envisioned and chartered by the founding father. The nation has paid a heavy price for deviating from that path. It is time now to make amends.

The writer is a freelance columnist.