AMID blasts, military operations, spiraling prices and sugar shortages, the government has decided to legitimise the black NRO through Parliament. The timing certainly could not be worse, not only for the country but also for the government. The country is reeling under the growing terrorism that has come to occupy centre stage and created uncertainty and fear in every household as schools have had to be closed; and the next generation of the country has had to grow up prematurely. The growing anger towards the state is also increasing as people perceive it as being completely unresponsive and out of synch with them. It is this growing disconnect that is reflected in the government seeking approval of the NRO when it should be reaching out to the people and resolving their issues rather than aggravating them by following external diktat - be it from the US or the IMF and World Bank. The main opposition party in Parliament, the PML-N has been see-sawing between playing a hard oppositional role, holding the government accountable on all issues, and being a 'friendly opposition' prepared to tolerate the growing government absurdities in order to 'save' democracy. However, a strong democracy requires a strong opposition because that is what enables effective accountability. Also, a strong opposition gives the nation a voice, beyond elections, which can be raised against the excesses of the ruling party. Within a Parliamentary system, it is equally incumbent upon the elected opposition to raise an alternate voice within the Parliament, including casting negative votes on issues which it opposes as being counter to the country's interests. It is simply not enough to stage walkouts and allow things to slip through; nor is it enough to make grand statements on the media alone. Opposition must be seen through actions within the Parliament. This has not happened yet, despite spirit-rousing speeches by the opposition members. Instead, we saw no resolution passed against the Kerry Lugar Act - which has reduced us effectively to a vassal state before the US - and in the case of the NRO, the PML-N walked out of the NRO Committee. In fact, we have had long marches, train marches, boycotts and so on, some extremely effective; but where it is most needed, that is in Parliament itself, the opposition has lacked the vibrancy and determination that would make democracy strong and responsive. At this critical juncture, Parliament needs a strong opposition in order for the voice of the Pakistani people to be heard.