Notwithstanding the fact that the military leadership has repeatedly quashed the notion of an international conspiracy to remove Imran Khan from power and his contention that the US did it because he refused to give them bases, Imran Khan continues to agitate his rhetoric without being mindful of consequences of such an irrational, unimaginative and accusatory narrative against a superpower. In the domain of international relations pragmatism, vision and safeguarding of national interests must dictate the contours of the foreign policy of a country. It is of utmost imperative when relations with a superpower like the US are concerned. The anti-US narrative being propagated by Imran Khan may have an appeal to the masses because it sells in third world countries where leaders find it convenient to attribute their failures to US intervention or arms twisting. But it is a very dangerous course to tread as far as the national interests are concerned. The US is the largest export partner of Pakistan followed by the European Union. A large Pakistani diaspora lives in America and European countries which sends much-needed remittances worth billions of dollars. There is also the not-that-small matter of the IMF and the FATF, both of which are seen as heavily influenced by the US. Annoying the US and European Union for political gains internally is probably the most preposterous mindset which can have far-reaching implications for our economic survival. A true leader would never allow internal politics to overshadow its relations with other countries, particularly with a superpower like the US which is in a position to create difficulties for Pakistan. Political battles must be fought through political avenues and in consonance with the law and constitution of the country. Imran is not only whipping up anti-US sentiments but has also made it a point to target state institutions. A sustained campaign is also underway to malign and denigrate the judiciary and establishment. He has been so shell-shocked by his ouster from power through a constitutional process that he has lost his sense of proportion. He continues to vent his venom against Army for its apolitical stance in the current duel between him and the opposition parties. The situation has now forced the Army to give its reaction to the permeating scenario in the country. A statement issued by ISPR says, “Recently there has been intensified and deliberate attempts to drag Pakistan Armed Forces and their leadership in ongoing political discourse in the country. These attempts are manifest through direct, insinuated or nuanced references to Armed Forces as well as their senior leadership, made by some political leaders, a few journalists and analysts on public forums and various communication platforms including social media. These unsubstantiated, defamatory and provocative statements are extremely damaging. Pakistan Armed Forces take strong exception to such unlawful and unethical practice and expect all to abide by the law and keep the Armed Forces out of political discourse in the best interest of the country.” It is indeed appreciable to note that the establishment continues to maintain its apolitical stance while the politicians are at daggers drawn. The warning issued by the establishment needs to be heeded by all politicians, more so by Imran Khan. Political battles must be fought through political avenues and in consonance with the law and constitution of the country. Unfortunately, Imran Khan does not believe in these things as is manifest by his reaction to his outer power. His party tried every unconstitutional method to obstruct the constitutional process of no-confidence. After its passage, the party has adopted a hostile posture towards the judiciary as well. President and Governor Punjab who are PTI stalwarts have failed to fulfil their constitutional obligations. Governor Punjab with the blessing of the President is still there even though Prime Minister had advised the latter to remove him. The governor has shown extreme disrespect to LHC verdicts regarding the holding of elections for CM and administering of the oath of office to the newly elected incumbent. Not only that, he has decided to file a reference against the Judge in the Supreme Judicial Council. All his actions are a calculated ploy to create a constitutional crisis in the country. It sounds bizarre that while the President and Governor continue to act in breach of the constitution, the latter has written to COAS to play his role in the implementation of the constitutional framework in the province. Writing to the Army Chief for intervention is itself a violation of the constitution. The army, therefore, while maintaining its apolitical stance has rightly warned the politicians to keep it out of the present political quagmire. There is no denying the fact that Imran is a charismatic leader and has a considerable following. But it is also an undeniable reality that he did not command an absolute majority in the parliament as the opposition parties together had obtained far more votes than his party and enjoyed the mandate of all those who voted for them. Failing to develop working relations with the opposition and instead subjecting it to political vendetta, really harmed democracy besides creating political difficulties. That is not the way democracy works. The courts also cast aspersions on the accountability process by terming it an attempt at political engineering through NAB. The opposition parties after being pushed to the wall had no option but to file a no-confidence motion against him using their constitutional right. But it is regrettable to note that instead of accepting his ouster gracefully and playing the part of strong opposition in the assembly, he has chosen the path of confrontation, accentuating political instability in the country. A leader is supposed to unite a nation and not divide it. The current political duel is surely going the wrong way. I think the advisors who are encouraging Imran Khan to indulge in divisive and violent politics, are his real enemies. His demand for immediate elections is not workable because the ECP has already indicated that it could not hold the elections before October. The other thing is who will guarantee that the results of the elections conducted by the incumbent Chief Election Commissioner on whom PTI does not trust, will be acceptable to it? The fact is that the parties now forming the government are also not in favour of holding elections without reforms. Under the circumstances, the advisable course for Imran Khan is to remain part of the parliament, engage the government in a dialogue for reforming the electoral system and bringing other systemic changes that are badly needed to ensure political stability in the country and end political feuds forever. The writer is a former diplomat and freelance columnist.