It seems Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has to play one final competitive match to win the government, as the opposition parties have combined together to give Imran Khan a run for the post of Prime Minister.

It is indeed striking to see politicians who opposed each other fiercely before the elections now stand together united to give a press conference.  Leading in the meeting held by the opposition alliance were members from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), as well as Awami National Party (ANP), the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), and the National Party (NP). According to Sherry Rehman, who seemed to be the ringleader, the parties have decided that the prime minister shall be appointed from the PML-N, the speaker of the National Assembly from the PPP and the deputy speaker from MMA.

These were all parties which had competed intensely against each other-yet this is the diction of politics- it forces you to make unpleasant alliances. Perhaps that is the reason why the leaders of the parties- Bilawal Bhutto or Shehbaz Sharif- have opted out of becoming the face of this opposition, leaving it up to Sherry Rehman and Ahsan Iqbal to present the cause. The PTI is certainly no stranger to this game either- there are reports of an MQM and PTI alliance in the works.  While PML-N and PPP together present a daunting competition, if PTI manoeuvres MQM and independents on its side, it can safely bet on securing the government.

A united opposition for the prime-minister ship is a departure from last time, when different opposition parties presented their own candidate. It is hard to say why the opposition has emerged strong this time-whether due to PTI’s refusal to cooperate with PPP in 2013, or because a strong cause-allegation of rigging in favour of PTI- has become a tagline for parties to rally behind.

For now, this means that the next tenure will feature a much stronger opposition in the assembly compared to last time. It is hoped that the opposition will use its united power to keep the government on its toes, and not to sabotage it.  However, before we speak too soon, let’s see how long this unity will last as opposition alliances tend to be flimsy. The expressions on the faces of those leading the press conference perhaps reflect the reluctance.