Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s preference for a forum in which the Prime Minister should answer for his alleged corruption charges keeps changing day by day. One could try to discern a method to this madness by asserting that the PTI chief simply picks a forum that seems the most advantageous at the moment – but that too would be attaching a sense of premeditation to a method that seems instinctive at best and chaotic at worst. Having been in and out of the Parliament discussing Panamagate and baying for a Supreme Court intervention, Imran Khan now feels that the final destination for this issue is the Parliament floor once more, where he has challenged the Prime Minister to a debate.

“I invite Nawaz Sharif to come and debate me in parliament. Let’s talk it out there; you say what you have to and I will say what I have to.” said the PTI chief at a rally in Kasur, instructing the audience that “this is how democratic debates happen”. While he may be glossing over a few finer points, that is indeed how democratic debates happen. However, it does seem a bit odd receiving a lesson in parliamentary norms from a man who has spent the majority of his time outside the institution.

If Imran Khan is to be believed, the Parliament is a “compromised” and “illegitimate” body under the present Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) government and therefore he refuses to attended it. As a result, he has one of the worst attendance records in the National Assembly (NA). Imran Khan was not even in the NA when Nawaz Sharif delivered his now controversial speech regarding his assets; had he been there it would have been a perfect opportunity to engage in the debate that he now seeks. What has changed from that day to this one that Imran Khan now thinks that the NA has become a proper forum to solve this problem? Does he see the legal proceeding to be a losing battle?

The problem is not that the parliament isn’t a forum to discuss Panama and the Prime Minister’s properties – although its lack of evidence admissibility standards, looser structure, and reliance on rhetoric make it an inferior alternative to the Supreme Court. The problem is that Imran Khan cannot debase and ignore the Parliament for the majority of this term, and suddenly demand that the Prime Minister answer his call to it when it suits his needs.