Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political immaturity continues to get the better of him. By resigning from the country’s National Assembly along with his entire party, he has left the field open for his political opponents to do as they please. This is bad politics.

The reason Khan continues to hold any relevance in Pakistani democracy is that he was empowered for three-odd years by the same system he has just haughtily walked away from. It reflects poorly on the captain’s otherwise fighting spirit: it is akin to him saying he simply will not play unless only he is allowed to bat.

It is understandable that Khan’s unceremonious ouster through a vote of no-confidence would have been a very bitter pill to swallow. Still, being deprived of government does not mean Khan has also been relieved of all responsibility: he still has a major role to play, even if it requires him to sit on the opposition benches till preparations for the next general elections are complete.

He has to make sure that the voices and interests of those who brought him and his party to power continue to be heard and safeguarded in the National Assembly, while the new government executes its legislative agenda. By suggesting that he will be abandoning that responsibility, Khan has done his constituents a great disservice.

Defeat of democracy

There is no guarantee that en masse resignations will lead to an early election. The Election Commission of Pakistan has already told the Supreme Court that it cannot hold legal and fair general elections till a months-long delimitation exercise is first completed.

If it holds by-elections instead on the vacated seats, what will the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf do? Will it contest those seats again? If it wins them back, what changes? And if it wins them back and resigns again, what good will it have done except waste state resources?

Clearly, the decision has not been workshopped thoroughly. Yes, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf may want to ride the wave of support it is receiving, but it can agitate both on the streets and within Parliament. There is no restriction on doing so and it will give the party even greater visibility.

Back in 2014, when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf legislators had submitted their resignations to the Assembly secretariat en masse, it had been other political parties that made it see reason and reconsider the decision.

Despite the acridity of everything that went on before April 10, it would be commendable if such efforts are made again. The optics are not good for the new coalition either when the Assembly hall is nearly half empty. Any legislative efforts it undertakes will lose political legitimacy if they are seen as serving a one-sided agenda. As in the past, there should be an honest attempt to bring all parties back to Parliament so that the democratic system can continue with some stability.

This article first appeared in Dawn.