The more Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman, Mr. Imran Khan, coins new rhetoric, the more important it is to remind his audiences of the stances he has been taking and quietly dumping in his bid to achieve premiership via extra-electoral means.

It is important for his supporters to remember that almost his entire election campaign before the last general elections in 2013 was built on his stance on the war on terror and on opposing the strategy of dealing with the Taliban and Al Qaeda militancy with use of force. He was nicknamed Taliban Khan by his opponents for the reason that he was completely opposed to any military action whatsoever against the Taliban. Fiercely opposed to Drone strikes against misunderstood brethren the Taliban, his promises included ending militancy, corruption, injustice and many other ills within 90 days of coming to power. Mr. Khan popularized the false narrative assuring his adoring fans that bombing of girls’ schools by the Taliban was government propaganda, and telling the public that the Taliban did not want to force Sharia at gunpoint in Pakistan. And he made all of these claims in tones of utter sincerity, which perhaps untold millions believed because it was Mr. Khan claiming it. It is unclear what these claims of his were based on – but Mr. Khan continued to unabashedly make such claims in the face of Taliban spokespersons continually contradicting them publicly in statements as well as through their deeds.

Perhaps his adoring young supporters have forgotten Mr. Khan’s anti-Drone campaign, which at its height saw him taking a long march to the border of North Waziristan before returning meekly when asked by the military authorities to return. After PTI came to power in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, his party and government carried out the infamous sit-in and illegal blockade and stop and search of cargo containers in a bid to block NATO supplies and force the U.S. government to cease Drone strikes. The claim that it was the party and not the government carrying out the illegal blockade, causing Pakistan to renege on its agreements and obligations, was transparently duplicitous. The claims of having made the police service independent in KP were as flimsy, given that it was not allowed to disrupt the hooliganism of the PTI members when they were dragging and beating truck drivers, carrying out self-appointed inspections of cargo and severely impacting the livelihoods of people in the trucking service.

Not only does it not bother Mr. Khan that the same areas and the same people have since June this year been mercilessly pounded by the Pakistan military, for some odd reason he does not speak about Drone strikes either, which have resumed. What is one to make of his flighty stances? Is it that he does not like to cross the military and his causes magically melt away depending upon who is championing which cause at given times?

Mr. Khan’s jalsa base might want to consider the sobering reality that ever since forming the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he has not shown the slightest interest or inclination to actually govern the province he was fortunate to win the most seats in. He has become comfortable in politics of confrontation, accusation and protest. From the very start, Mr. Khan has preferred to tour the country protesting on one issue or another, be it alleged rigging, inflation, corruption, electricity shortages, or the metro bus.

Mr. Khan has clearly demonstrated in the last year and a quarter that his mind bent is not suited to governing via state structures or institutions. He finds it easier to neglect his duty, indeed to instigate the provincial government to breach its oath and stay bent to rhetoric and instigation to illegality and criminality. The most horrific dereliction of duty was witnessed when over a dozen people in the KP province died due to floods, and not a mention of them was made in the rousing rhetoric from atop the Azadi Container. During the recent sit-ins in Islamabad, Mr. Khan tried to lead his followers to as many illegal paths as he could think of: to not pay taxes and utility bills, to transmit money through illegal channels used for money laundering, to attack policemen, to storm the Red Zone, to storm government buildings including the parliament, the prime minister house and the Pakistan television station.

Young Insafians must think hard. Mr. Khan truly considers himself and any actions that *he* orders, above the law. He believes the end justifies the means. For a party founded on the manifesto of justice, rule of law and equality, the leader is uniquely beyond the law and mistrustful of systems and institutions. He has cast a shadow over every institution of this country that stands for justice, rule of law or democracy. He accords himself the same special status and VIP stature that he purports to disavow. He rejects outright every court, judge, tribunal, or parliament that does not bow down to giving him special treatment. All of Pakistan’s citizens supply to the same justice system Mr. Khan wants to sidestep to obtain speedy judgments. Indeed, he wants different standards to apply to him. And in the absence of those, he threatens to undermine all persons and institutions that do not bow down to his pressure. Can this gentleman deliver a just Pakistan?

Mr. Khan is now perhaps more ‘politician’ than those he has berated for being immoral and criminal. He made the word ‘politician’ a four letter word – associated with corruption and immorality. He is now wont to use articles 62 and 63 of the constitution against the sitting Prime Minister, despite his own earlier sheepish attitude when better men came to his aid and protected him from being disqualified under the same articles of the constitution from contesting the election. Mr. Khan is knowingly using malafide articles inserted in the constitution by a dictator, that no other politician has stooped to use against opponents.

Indeed, he has led a revolution in foul and derogatory language and unfounded allegations to form the backbone of political discourse for his young fans to follow. One had hoped he would lead the youth to think critically and become effective participants in a fairer democracy. Unfortunately, his guidance has led them to view similar projects as the Metro in Peshawar, and the ‘Jangla Bus’ in Lahore; taught them to accept accusations as facts; raised expectations of good coming out of anarchy; promoted vigilante and criminal behaviours and disrespect for order and authority. These are the most grievous changes Mr. Khan is bringing about. Should he come to power at the center some day, the culture he has promoted will almost certainly work against him as well.

Only yesterday, a group of his party’s provincial parliamentarians have announced a sit-in in Peshawer to protest corruption in Mr. Khan’s KP government. The parliamentarian vowing to lead the protest has spoken about Mr. Khan’s tolerance of corruption as a pragmatic politician, quoting Mr. Khan on the necessity of working with thieves. He has bemoaned the raising of false expectations of complete honesty in the PTI and the KP government.

What Mr. Khan’s supporters in their millions have yet to understand is that his bid to de-seat the current government through unconstitutional means and with the help a court-military nexus, will not bring in an angel in power even if the military allows him a puppet role in that eventuality. If they look closely, Mr. Khan’s party or politics cannot be differentiated much from the others. The KP government stands no less *accused* of corruption and nepotism than any other government; many party leaders’ tax-returns are as questionable as those from other parties; disqualifications from membership of assemblies on findings of rigging or fake degrees by election tribunals are as rife as in other parties; elite, landowning, big-business politicians are as much in prominent positions within the PTI as in other parties.

Indeed, at this stage, the only differentiating factor between PTI and the other parties in parliament is that PTI is doing its utmost to discredit the entire elections and with it the democratic project in its bid to come into power. By contrast, all other political parties in the house, whether in coalition with the government, or in opposition, are all intent on resisting this onslaught to derail the project completely.

    The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.