As the National Assembly gathers to vote on Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister in the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s dismissal, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) candidate for the position, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is all but confirmed as the next leader of the country. The party holds a sizable majority in the house, and the prospect of facing a united opposition candidate, which still wouldn’t have been enough to challenge the PML-N’s majority, also melted away in the eve of the vote.

Understandably the focus is now solely on the PML-N candidate – and his Rs220 billion corruption inquiry – but it is worthwhile considering the candidates put up by the other parties as they are indicative of the thought process of these parties.

As we go through the list of candidates however, it becomes increasingly obvious that they were selected with the inevitable PML-N victory firmly in mind. Most parties took this opportunity to reward prominent leaders with a nomination, while other picked candidates by default. The real candidates for the Prime Minister post – those who would most likely claim the spot if their party won the next general elections – like Imran Khan were ‘rested’ for this bout.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) put forward Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rashid’s name to reward him for his efforts during the Panama case. PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi was explicit about this, saying that the AML chief “deserved the honour” of becoming PM as he fought the Panama case “on both political and legal fronts”. No attempts were made to justify Sheikh Rashid’s ability and suitability as Prime Minister; this was simply an “honour”.

Still, sting over the remarks made my Imran Khan against Asif Ali Zardari, as well as the seemingly unilateral step taken to nominate Sheikh Rashid, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) instead chose to back Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chose Kishwar Zehra, while Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) suggested the name of Sahibzada Tariqullah.

However, the real takeaway from these nominations is the fact that the opposition parties may be united in opposition to Nawaz Sharif, but are united in little else. Even in a meaningless vote – from the opposition’s perspective – where the conclusion is foregone and nothing is really on the line, the opposition failed to present a united front. We can only expect these differences to become more pronounced when the general election gets truly underway.