- Waiting for the government to fall under its own weight
The opposition has failed to make use of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s continuous failures caused by incompetence. The opposition alliance which was forged soon after the 2018 elections received a setback when Ms Maryam Nawaz suddenly became silent after getting bail in November and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif accompanied his brother to London. During his absence, differences arose within the PML(N) leadership over support to the COAS extension bill. When Mr Shehbaz Sharif returned in March after a four month absence, many developed expectations that he would play the role expected from the Leader of the Opposition. Instead, he advised people to maintain a distance from one another and try to stay at home.
The opposition parties look up to the PML(N) because it has a large vote bank in Punjab and is in a position to mobilise the largest province of the country. The problem with Mr Sharif is that he is hesitant to confront the establishment. However, four months of his silent diplomacy have failed to produce any result. The opposition parties meanwhile have not gone beyond criticizing the government in Parliament or boycotting the National Assembly sessions at times. The budget has been passed but the government is still unwilling to accommodate any of the opposition’s several objections to the NAB Ordinance among other issues.
The sentiment against the PTI administration is on the rise in the general public on account of its failures to deliver, as shown by opinion polls. Unless the opposition is willing to lead the people, public anger could take forms that may not be conducive to public peace.
During their joint press conference the PPP Chairman and PML(N) President agreed that the PTI government had become a hazard for the country. There was however no word about the course to be taken for the change of government. It was decided instead to hold a meeting of the opposition’s Rehbar Committee after the Eid which would call an APC after preparing its agenda. The way Mr Sharif tried to shift the burden of leadership onto Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during the press briefing indicates reluctance in him to go against the wishes of the establishment.