One would have hoped that at the zenith of his political career, when he stands triumphant on the political battlefield, his opponents swept away, leaving him an apparently clear path to victory, Imran Khan would drop some of the deadlier cudgels he had been using to beat the ruling party with, think on the future, and refocus his pragmatism to simply cruising to a majority.

Yet the day Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were handed their hefty sentences, Imran Khan addressed a rally in Swat – a land which was recently freed from the yoke of religious extremists – and continued to claim, without a shred of evidence, that the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government, “to please Western powers” had deliberately weakened the pledge on the finality of prophethood, in exchange for their support in hiding his corruption. In one sweeping conspiracy theory he raises the specter of a nebulous anti-Muslim agenda, accuses the government of blasphemous behavior, and pushes a toxic narrative that has cost the lives of thousands of Pakistanis.

All of this to eke out a few more votes in the constituency.

It was understandable – but not condonable at all – that Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf would bank on this issue when it was first raised by extremist clerics – led by the incendiary Khadim Rizvi – to pressurize the government. Such political windfalls are seldom found, and no party ever passes up an opportunity to delegitimize its opponents. Certainly other parties, like the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) got their fair share of traction out of the entire incident. However, while those parties have rightly moved on from the matter, recognizing it as non-issue and a dangerous one – Imran Khan is adamant to keep it alive.

The fact that his claims are not based on facts is a serious problem. The practice of using untruths to inflame the religious sensitivities of people for political gain is a trait associated with demagogues, terrorists and tyrants, and one that we abhor in a democracy. The fact that he continues to do this despite heading one of the country’s largest parties, that has built its politics on completely different national issues, is disappointing still.

Khatam-e-Nabuwat and the blasphemy laws are sensitive, convoluted issues; no party has a perfect record in upholding religious freedoms and human rights when it comes to this matter. However, while the rest may have been lacking in their efforts to fix the issue, Imran Khan is actively fanning the flames.