The PTI has taken a U-turn, just when the nation was breathing a sigh of relief – that for once the political parties were planning for national interest rather than personal ambition under the All Parties Conference (APC). Imran Khan has now inexplicably barred his party from attending the joint session of Parliament on the same issue. Yes, the APC was not expected to give long-term stability to the political system, but the reinvigorated desire to bring Islamabad to its knees seems disingenuous, and very suspect.

His reason: the APC was enough to represent the voice of Pakistan’s people (as stated by PTI spokesperson Naeem-ul-Haq). Does the party not realise that the Parliament was built for this exact purpose – representation, and boycotting it means dragging one’s constituency on the path of anarchy. If Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister has (according to Imran) lost the moral authority to lead government; the PTI leader does not stand on solid ground either, with his constant boycotting of parliament and consistent absence, a gross disrespect of the office given to him by his people. How is anything “enough” when people are in fear of Indian attacks, international condemnations and internal terrorism? These legislators should be in parliament day in and day out, trying to debate how to make their constituencies’ safe and well fed, rather than conspiring to ransack the federal capital.

The questions are the same as in 2014. What then, if the PM steps down? The PTI still has to win an election, and it is unlikely they will be able to have a majority in the National Assembly. Past statements about the “third umpire” and current statements of the KPK CM Pervaiz Khattak in support of a dictatorship, support the case that Imran may desire a coup. But that cannot be, can it? This man who was once almost a messiah, who seemed earnest and altruistic – he would not want millions to lose their constitutionally guarded civil rights, would he? Despite the pitfalls of our election system, the PTI has space to protest and can have power in KPK because of the system. Yet they want to derail it? In exchange for what?

It’s all bad strategy. Even if we play out his dangerous thought experiment, that the third empire is interested in the game, would Imran Khan be the opener for the new innings? It seems unlikely, not only because of his own personal failings, but also because the military does not seem to want to pit other mainstream parties against itself, especially not at a time when the focus has to be on the borders, and the PML-N does not seem to such a big obstacle in the path of national security that has to be removed.

Visibility for the party is essential, and protest is a right, but the PTI takes this just too far.