Till just four years ago, Imran Khan came across as a civilised educated person who believed in law and the democratic process, who had a distaste for ‘politics of fear’ and who was willing to die as a failure instead of lowering himself down to the ways of other politicians.

Desperate for change, people finally flocked around him in 2010. But sadly, Khan, who did not change for popularity’s sake, has changed after gaining popularity – by completely transforming himself as the biggest promoter of politics of division, hate and fear. And in his desperation, he is relying for support from the usual undemocratic forces along with persons, who, in his words, were not good enough to be even his peons.

And this new hate spouting, cant-wait-to-be-PM model of Imran Khan is now posing a serious threat to state institutions.

While all democracies are said to function on the basis of rule by majority, in reality, every democracy’s success is premised on the grace and patience of a minority and its willingness to accept and walk away from a defeat, even if it believes that it has not been dealt with fairly.

That is exactly what Al Gore and the Democratic Party did when a biased US Supreme Court, quite unfairly, handed over election victory to Republican candidate Bush. Had Al Gore then decided to take the matter to the streets, the US would have ended up with its biggest constitutional crisis since the civil war.

On the other hand, in London, ‘million marches’ compelled ruling parties to dismiss two elected prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Similarly, in Pakistan, in 1977, it was a losing minority with just about a million angry PNA supporters that refused to accept the results, took to the streets demanding free and fair re-elections and ended up ushering in 11 years of martial law.

Imran Khan is no Al Gore and on merit, while there was indeed widespread rigging in the last elections, the PTI’s claim to have won those elections is entirely bogus. All their leaders privately admit that had there been no rigging, their party was still far from winning. But they are too scared of Khan to say it publicly.

While Khan can no longer win elections, certainly not after his obsessive romance with the Taliban and the exposure of his political U-turns that significantly chipped away the remaining support among the urban middle classes, he still has a million devotees at his beck and call. The realisation that he no longer has the nationwide broad support to win elections has made him dangerous for the system.

So while the crowd of his followers is not enough to win him general elections, they are enough for him to abuse, disrupt, block Islamabad, blackmail, and bring down the whole house just to force his way into becoming PM, no matter how. And soon because this rotten system has already kept him waiting for too long.

And to this end, nothing is too sacred or respectable to be safe from his verbal assault, be it the constitution or the law or the Election Commission or the honourable judges of the Supreme Court or high court or the parliament. No one dare show care for facts, merit, and the law. And if these institutions did not make way for him, in Khan’s and thus PTI’s eyes, they will all lose their legitimacy and thus be dispensable as they will be seen as protecting the status quo (read elected PM Nawaz Sharif) against historic change (read Imran Khan).

As Khan often says, how do you defeat someone who does not accept defeat? Surrounded by the usual chamcha brigade, in Khan’s mind, there no longer seems to be any room for the possibility of existence of person who may be honest and patriotic but who may not want him to be PM.

With this mindset, Khan has fallen to such shocking lows that now he seems to have zero concern for such things as the truth, fair play and decency.

According to Cyril Almeida, in his piece ‘The Demagogue in Khan’, “yell loud enough, mock long enough, condemn emphatically enough – and what you say can begin to sound like the truth here.”

Najam Sethi begged for proof of the 35 punctures charge. No proof is given but PTI drones continue the punctures mantra. The government begged him in vain to show any basis behind his allegation that the federal government has taken money from the province. But explaining and backing up his allegations with proof are simply beneath his station.

And it is working. The Election Commission and the Supreme Court have all become active. The prime minister has set up a committee to recommend a host of constitutional and statutory changes that need to be made to ensure that the next elections are fair. All this is good provided it satisfies Khan who believes that his time of greatness is here and that becoming PM tomorrow is not soon enough.

Unfortunately, such blind devotion at the bottom and such deliberate disregard for truth and Hitlorian intolerance at the top is a dangerous combination.

In his present frame of mind, therefore, Khan represents a serious challenge to our weak state institutions. And all this before he has even come to power.

“Respected Judges”, he menacingly shouted to his devotee crowd in Sialkot, “if you cannot give justice, where can we go but to the streets.”

The message is loud and clear. The summer of discontent that Khan has unleashed upon us through his million devotees is obviously not just for electoral reforms because elections are four years away. The only response that state institutions can offer is either to give in to his ambition or have the guts to confront him.

On the other hand, who would have the courage to face him when his backers have brought down to its knees the biggest media group of the country while the elected government and the judiciary just looked on?

The result is that PPP leaders are wary of Khan’s verbal assault and that of his social media followers. The MQM and other parties too have accepted the fact of Khan now arriving. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, seeing the people who are behind Khan, has gone all quiet.

While conceptually Khan poses a threat to the state and its institutions, his immediate and direct challenge is obviously for the PML-N and its government only. But is the PML-N ready for a dirty hard-knuckle brawl with Khan – punch for punch, abuse for abuse. It seems not.

While Khan slaps around the government every day, all that the ministers can come up with is a Lucknawi ‘Khan Sahib should become a mature politician.’ Who said Khan wants to become mature? He wants to become PM. And soon.