Nothing could be more dangerous than populist politics for a country like Pakistan whose fledgling democratic setup has suffered massive blows via military coups and hybrid regime models. Given the multi-coloured conspiracy narrative of Imran Khan along with his populist cult that has pervaded the socio-political psyche of the country, the democracy of Pakistan seems more fragile than ever as the scandalisation of state institutions, political elite and the establishment has risen to unprecedented levels. Owing to the state and society having locked horns with one another amid the cult worshipping of Imran Khan, the country is on the fast track to institutional collapse as news of a military coup has once again reignited across the political spectrum of the country. It does not matter whether there is an impending possibility of a coup or not, what matters is that we have come back to square zero and are ready to make the same mistakes. Our political elite that has been constantly fighting against each other, allowing undemocratic forces to intrude into the political sphere, ignoring the economic plight of people and normalizing the abuse within the larger socio-political thought for merely political gains is responsible for all the socio-economic ailments of the state. Combined with the callousness of the political elite, what is more damaging is that populist politics dragging the country in the hope that it would benefit one group over the other which is a wrong political premise as our history suggests otherwise as raising the political temperature by using belligerent rhetorical claims ultimately benefits draconian powers. In the current circumstances, amid rising political tensions between the coalition government and Imran Khan, the chances of consensual politics are very rare as the demands of Khan are unconstitutional as well as undemocratic calling an early election, as well as the right to appoint the next Chief Of Army (COAS), is Premier’s prerogative- a right given to him by the constitution of Pakistan. Therefore, Khan has to understand that forcing the state to concede to his demands via long marches would set an ominous precedent for the democratic setup of Pakistan. Once the state comes under pressure from Khan, it will then embolden all nationalistic, ethnic and other jingoistic forces of Pakistan to wreck the writ of the state in pursuing their demands. Resultantly, the state structure would dissolve slowly, leading to chaos and lawlessness. The recent attack on Khan’s life is the tip of the iceberg. Since Khan’s removal from power via the vote of no-confidence in April 2022, he has typically challenged the writ of the state by embodying himself as the will of the people against the status quo – which is a typical gesture of all the populist leaders across the world. He has challenged the establishment, political parties and their associated handlers who he thinks are responsible for his downfall. Moreover, he has brought the state to a halt and disrupted its functions via various long marches and protests. To turn the public to his side, he has simply generated a moral panic using conspiratorial theories and throwing abuses at politicians, the higher officials of agencies and the establishment. All in all, Khan has reinvented his populist charisma by using the same old rhetoric of the corrupt elite. Additionally, he has successfully scandalized the establishment. Taking on the local and international establishments, Khan has become not only popular within the domestic political landscape of the country. He has imitated an anti-imperial stance to popularize himself around the globe. In doing so, Khan has dominated national and international media as he has been giving interviews to various international channels from CNN to DW and local media channels. Khan did not enjoy attention in the international media before an attack on his life. But it has changed now as sympathies are pouring in with Khan’s sons having come back to see their father. Internationally, the situation might change in his favour. It seems the long march of Imran Khan was to convince the power centres of Pakistan. With this change in narrative, Khan seems to be looking forward to becoming the PM of Pakistan once again as he is trying to recover the damage he has caused to the establishment and country. Thus, it is not unexpected for the liberal intelligentsia of Pakistan to see Khan going back to parliament for a political settlement after the appointment of the next chief of the Army as he cannot afford to disturb the new incumbent who is going to lead the power centres of the country. Conclusively, Khan has used his charisma as a tool to convince people about his cause, which is in fact a good political strategy. But in pursuing his goal, Khan has annihilated the foreign relations of Pakistan and disturbed the democratic setup of Pakistan by politicising the state institutions such as the judiciary, executive and military. The writer is a freelance columnist.