The opposition’s Rehbar committee, a panel which handles the joint efforts of the different opposition parties to take a stand against the government, is not a body which has achieved much. Two years have passed since the government took power in July 2018, yet despite having the numbers and the government giving them ample opportunity for a shared resentment, the opposition has never quite been able to join causes successfully and put pressure on the government.

Now, at the umpteenth time that the opposition parties are again deciding to meet in order to jointly oppose the government, the Rehbar committee was more prudent and less trusting. The committee decided to take some pre-emptive measures to ensure that the opposition parties’ representatives will stick to their words, and insisted the parties sign a formal binding agreement so that the parties known to flake do not back out at the last moment. It was mainly the small parties in the meeting that were wary of the larger opposition parties not committing and had asked Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman to part ways with the PPP and PML-N as they were not trustworthy anymore.

It was smart of the Rehbar committee to learn from its previous failures and extract a formal written commitment from PPP and PML-N. The strategy appears to have been successful, at least until now, as the deliberations of the opposition have finally moved past “talks” to a consensus for paving the way of holding an all-parties conference (APC).

Yet this agreement and the upcoming APC has to be viewed with some scepticism. Considering the past performances of any joint opposition effort, the odds are likely that this one is just smoke and mirrors too. The weak state of the opposition is unfortunate- an opposition which cannot provide any meaningful resistance to the government is harmful to the country—it takes away from the necessary oversight needed to keep the government in check. Let us see how the effort fares this time—hopes are not high so far.