It appears the opposition parties are determined to drive their initiative further—the first public meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)—an alliance of almost all major opposition parties that seeks the government’s ouster—has been announced to be held on October 11 in Quetta.

The opposition’s Multi-Party Conference (MPC) last week generated much controversy and viewership, with many tuning in to see Nawaz Sharif virtually address the conference. It seems that the opposition does not want to lose that initial interest of the public and venture on quickly with an official public meeting to further its support.

The choice of Quetta as its location for the public meeting is interesting and indicative of the approach that PDM is taking. This is not the traditional route that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has usually adopted, of huge Punjab-centric rallies. Rather, the new trend that the opposition seems to be following is more community-focused for the time being, in order to build a larger following when it organises a more centralised protest next year. So far, under the “action plan” announced at the MPC, the first phase will focus on countrywide public meetings, which will then lead to protest demonstrations and rallies in December and a “decisive long march” towards Islamabad in January 2021.

It is a smart move to hold initial public meetings in different locations to test the waters. The opposition’s loss of support in the general elections is not solely down to the PTI’s manoeuvring, but also because there had been a tangible loss of trust in the status quo political parties. It will be worthwhile, as the opposition holds its meetings, to assess where it had gone wrong in specific areas. This first month will be a litmus test to ascertain whether the PDM will pose a strong challenge to the government, or whether this is a failed attempt by the opposition, which is bound to fizzle away.