Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has rejected the formation of an ethics committee to probe harassment allegations put forth by MNA Ayesha Gulalai. Shireen Mazari, the PTI party whip, claimed on Tuesday that they reject the biased National Assembly (NA) committee because it can be used to victimise political opponents in the future. Instead, the party wants a neutral inquiry by appointing an independent parliamentary commissioner for standards office, as done by the British Parliament.

It seems Imran Khan and his party are saying no to a probe because neutrality is hard to come by these days. Yet, Imran Khan has been recorded live pushing former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif to opt for an inquiry despite his rival being uncomfortable with the set of people on board. Khan has repeatedly said that the individuals appointed do not matter if the person being inquired is innocent.

Appointing an independent parliamentary commissioner for standards office can actually improve the overall work environment. However, at this point the opponents seem very eager to punish Khan and it is unlikely that they will give in to his demands. Imran Khan is also using risky strategies. Earlier in the case of accusations against the former PM, Khan had no proof to support his claim. Now when he is being asked to present his blackberry phone, he refuses to do so, claiming that the accuser should present the proof.

The bottom line is the proof, without which none of the parties can be seen as innocent or guilty. Unless the probe committee can find unequivocal proof of any harassment allegations, the PTI Chief is safe from blame; the allegations can only be treated as allegations. Gulalai, who has accused the PTI leader of misconduct is not pursuing the case in any legal court. Her initial claim was that she wanted to start a debate about workplace harassment, and bring to attention that politics is no different. This is a debate that must be had. Casual harassment is rife in politics, as PTI leader Shireen Mazari well knows, being at the receiving end of very distasteful remarks by PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif. Sadly, Mazari herself saw fit to claim that because nothing was done when she was attacked, nothing need be done now, perpetrating the same callousness she was subject to. The bad news for the PTI is that a legal case cannot be made to defend Imran Khan, and this is a grave accusation that does require proper proof.

Who gets to become the villain in this saga is up to the whims of political maneuvering and media spin. All we are left with is an ethics committee, who has the burden on it to make sure parliamentarians do not cross moral boundaries, which they often do.