Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to pressurise the federal government - consequences be damned. By addressing the Khatam-e-Nabuwat Conference in Lahore yesterday opened up an issue that the government and the people of Pakistan have already addressed and moved on from. If the Kaptaan remembers, the replacement of words was a clerical error, admitted by the government, and the text was reverted to its original form after a destabilising period of protests. Discussing the issue again, while keeping in mind the sensitivity around it and the violent nature of the conversation surrounding it, shows poor judgement on part of PTI as a party – at its best. At its worst, it is a deliberate and cynical attempt to inflame religious sentiments to generate political support.

More shocking than this uncalled for incitement is the wild and fantastic nature of Mr Khan’s claims itself. His speech was the perfect blend of conspiracy theories; from the 13th century Italian poet, Dante Alighieri to Salman Rushdie, Imran Khan skewered them all with the agenda of “disrespecting Islam”. More so, he accused the government of disrespecting the Prophet (PBUH) on the agenda of the “foreign powers” with the help of every other political player except for those in PTI – a rather convenient coincidence is it not? The irony that Imran Khan actively associates with “the West” and often extolls the virtues of Western government systems seems lost on the conference and on Imran Khan as well.

The whole nation breathed a sigh of relief when this issue was conclusively put behind us. It was hoped that with time the toxic narrative of the Khatam-e-Nabuwat platform – due to which a mob of Tehreek-e-Labaik workers had almost lynched a Christian teenager in Lahore on Monday – would eventually dissipate away from the limelight and in the face of saner voices. Alas, Imran Khan seems intent on giving them legitimacy time and again, all for electoral expediencies.

If the PTI Chairman seriously intends to challenge for position of Prime Minister he needs to stop being a peddler of lowly conspiracy theories and start focusing more on developing a post-election policy and a party agenda. If nothing else, PML-N’s runaway political success in recent by-elections should jolt the party into serious though on actual, exigent issues – rather than ones that create religious differences between the masses.