Beyond those who swear that there has never been a political leader like Imran Khan in Pakistan, are those who are convinced that he has been one of the most self-destructive politicians the country has ever seen.

He had everything going for him. He had star power and charisma that were systematically nurtured by the powerful military establishment. It peddled him as an incorruptible and ultra-patriotic leader with a 'vision' to create a Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan), devoid of corruption, immoralities and old 'degenerate' mainstream parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

A lot of effort and planning went into utilising state institutions and the electronic and social media to make him seem like a messianic character - especially to the country's growing urban middle classes which, according to some estimates, now constitute 42 per cent of Pakistan's population.

The idea was to engineer a 'hybrid regime' fronted by a 'handsome' and iconic figure. But, of course, the regime was largely navigated by those who had bolstered his otherwise unremarkable political career.

The former prime minister failed to capitalise on all that was going for him while he was in power. And he has treated his fresh burst of popularity in the same manner he treated the many factors that were manufactured to put him in power

An election was manipulated to bring his party to power. His opponents were harassed and deeply demonised. The military and the judiciary went out of their way to keep him afloat, no matter how incompetent and chaotic his regime became. Yet, Khan could not turn these into advantages. Instead, as prime minister, he became a mixture of complacency, ego and outlandish outbursts that often left his mentors embarrassed.

This is still the case, even though he was finally ousted from power in April 2022. He did well to regenerate a lot of popularity that he had lost when he was PM. But the fact is, he has treated this fresh burst of popularity in the same manner he treated the many factors that were manufactured to put him in power.

He has demonstrated no patience so far to play a waiting game to sustain his regenerated popularity for the next election that is likely to take place in mid-2023. Instead, he is busy burning his boats and fingers by lashing out against his erstwhile sculptors. More than a politician, he is behaving like a jilted lover, unable to reconcile to the fact that those who had...

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