We are living in a populist world, in which a leader having little understanding of politics garners more attention due to his charisma and flamboyance. By inciting people against corrupt elite, populists bag votes. Populist leader shapes people’s mind in a way that they think the former has a magic wand that can change the system. Populism has marred the effectiveness of democratic system. Populism and nationalism have an inextricable relation: there can be nationalism without populism but populism without nationalism cannot take root. Nationalism is taken as an ideology. However, populism is a strategy to bag nationalist gains. Populist strategy to achieve nationalist goals demands authoritative behavior. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in a book, titled, “How democracies die” present four key indicators of authoritarian behavior that can be noticed among populist leaders. Following are the four indicators: weak commitment to democratic rules, denial of opponents’ legitimacy, encouragement of violence, and readiness to curtail liberties of opponents, including media. The above-mentioned indicators would help us analyse Imran Khan’s populist approach. The first indicator is “weak commitment to democratic norms.” It is indubitable fact that Imran Khan showed little attention to democratic norms. Some of the leading democratic values are freedom of expression, rule of law, social justice, constitutional supremacy, and protection of minority’s rights. Since Pakistan has a “hybrid regime,” Imran Khan alone cannot limit or delimit the freedom of expression. Leading an accountability drive is a positive step, but using accountability as a political strategy to crush opposition gives it a negative meaning. In the political chessboard of Pakistan, there are also some other powerful actors, which are not in favour of free expression. So, in terms of limited freedom of expression, we cannot heap all the blame on Imran Khan. If we talk about the rule of law, it is one of the most important factors, which have exposed Khan’s inefficiency. In Khan’s government, the absence of the rule of law coupled with poor decision-making has given rise to religious intolerance and other criminal activities. According to the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021, “Pakistan is among the lowest-ranked countries in adherence to the rule of law, ranking 130th out of 139th nations.” Giving breathing space to bigots has further increased the insecurity. Corruption and politicization of institutions have endured under Khan’s government. Transparency International’s report shows a rise in corruption. In addition to this, Imran Khan could not bring any change to the existing criminal justice system. Minorities are living in abysmal conditions. Forced conversion of Hindu girls has become rife. Cases of vandalizing Hindu temples are also witnessed. Similarly, the Christian community is also going through difficult times. Most importantly, the latest move of Khan’s government to reject the no-confidence resolution is a new example of undemocratic behavior. Supreme Court has to announce the final verdict about the constitutional status of the move. The second indicator is “denial of opponent’s legitimacy.” This remained the dominant tactic of Khan to attack the opposition. This indicator sucked much of Khan’s energy and attention. Khan’s reluctance to engage opposition paved the way for a no-confidence motion. Had Khan shown some flexibility to the opposition, the current situation could have been averted. Leading an accountability drive is a positive step, but using accountability as a political strategy to crush opposition gives it a negative meaning. The third indicator is “encouragement of violence.” Although he never supported any armed group against the opposition, Khan hurled threats through political statements such as “I would not spare them.” The fourth indicator is “readiness to curtail liberties of opponents, including media.” As far as curtailing freedom of opposition is concerned, in the recent past, Khan’s government-imposed ban on opposition media coverage, and various media channels faced complications for airing opposition leaders’ interviews. Furthermore, Khan’s government has left the media crippled through a recent amendment in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. This amendment has increased the intricacies for critical voices and has further added to the severity of punishments. The above-mentioned indicators testify to the fact that Khan is a populist leader with authoritative tendencies. Although he bagged some achievements on the foreign policy front, Imran could not work well at the domestic level. Poverty, inflation, poor rule of law, a dormant criminal justice system, and a tottering economy are the leading issues of his government. Populist leaders have one thing in commo: a poor performance at the domestic level. If we take the case of Modi and Trump, we would come to know that both distorted democratic values and created division among countrymen. The case of Khan is a little different. He cannot be compared with Modi and Trump due to one thing: agenda. Khan does not have any official agenda to marginalise minorities. He does not support racist tendencies, unlike Trump and Modi. Khan lacks leadership acumen, shrewd decision-making, deft handling of the issues, and most importantly, an effective pragmatic plan to bring change. Coming into power without making a road map was Khan’s biggest blunder. He was of the view that only replacing Sharifs would be ample to change the system. As the no-confidence resolution has been rejected, the opposition is likely to resort to Supreme Court. Apex court would decide whether a new election is an appropriate option or not. In case of a new election, if Khan successfully comes into power again, he will have to learn from his mistakes. Otherwise, political instability will endure. The writer is an independent researcher and freelance contributor.