ISLAMABAD -  Imran Khan has finally thrown away all pretense of being a political leader who has any regard for democratic process or parliamentary institutions. In his latest press talk, Imran Khan acted with supreme nonchalance about the possibility of a military takeover due to his plan to lay a siege to the capital next month. In his usual style, Imran Khan said that the responsibility of the toppling of the democratic setup would rest with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The ease with which Imran Khan absolves himself of any responsibility is breathtaking and appalling. It gives credence to an increasing public perception that Imran Khan’s politics — or attempt at politics — has become singularly obsessed with ousting the prime minister. Institution building, strengthening the democratic process and working within the constitutional framework are the least of his priorities.

No one can deny that the Sharif family must be held accountable for their alleged corruption. The revelations of Panama Papers must be probed. But it certainly does not mean that all institutional and constitutional frameworks of the country must be sidestepped because it does not suit the political ambitions of Imran Khan. For the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, all institutions sans the military are beholden to the prime minister. It casts a dark shadow over the judiciary that has tried so hard to appear independent since the 2007 lawyers movement. While delegitimising everything except the military, Imran Khan appears as a fifth columnist for non-democratic forces. Imran Khan seems least concerned about this image. He keeps giving examples of how Western democracies work, how hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets when in disagreement with their governments. But he very conveniently omits to answer whether the 2003 anti-war protesters in London laid a siege to the city and paralysed it for weeks and months. Ever since the 2014 sit-in, Imran Khan talks about his days and nights spent inside the shipping container with a deep sense of romanticism and nostalgia. It makes one wonder whether Imran Khan sees himself as a political leader or the commander of a medieval army that is about to run through the defences of an enemy army’s fortress.

In pursuing his obsession to become the prime minister, Imran Khan has led a wide section of the society into a dead end, where they are oblivious to the ramifications of their incendiary rhetoric and exclusionary tactics. Consequently, polarisation within the society is becoming acuter and the seeds of fascism have been sown in the youth and the middles class. And, no one but the leader of PTI will be elated when they bloom into wild cactuses. Already, the body politic of the country has become so poisonous that the ruling party is accused of being hands in glove with the enemy country. Such labelling of the political class as the enemy’s agents is not new but there are bound to be long-term consequences when gradually all civilians are dubbed and maligned as anti-state and agents of hostile international forces.

As the country heads towards the apocalyptic Nov 2 Islamabad lockdown in PTI’s terms, the civil-military imbalance also hangs in sharp contrast. While the prime minister is intent on having his last word on the army chief’s successor, some analysts have commented that the military has forbidden the civilian government from making any announcement before the first week of November. Such calls, if true, are indeed unfortunate and certainly unconstitutional.

The civilians must be held accountable for their wrongdoing and transgressions from law but to invite the “third power’ – even if inadvertently — is a course that must be condemned. Imran Khan should not plough the land for non-democratic forces or even his own dictatorial instincts.