CPEC is on track, economic indicators are improving, Rangers have been deployed in Punjab, FATA is being merged into KP, and despite a terrorist attack in Lahore and later in Sehwan, Sindh, the PML-N didn’t pull out from allowing the PSL final to be played in Lahore. Is this stability? It looks like it. Even the Panama trials and Justice Isa’s Quetta report hasn’t put much of a dent in their confidence. The party is holding on to a position of strength and the opposition is unable to shake it.

During his address at the ground-breaking of Kurram Tungi Dam in North Waziristan, PM Nawaz Sharif stated, “It is the need of the hour to refrain from negative politics and get united,” furthering the image that the PML-N is clear of all charges and politics of the opposition is just incendiary nonsense. And those are the optics of it and how the masses see it. Yes, in reality there are scores of problems- including the party engaging in institutional corruption and having links with proscribed outfits- but the opposition has not been able to successfully capitalise on any of the flaws. The party has been able to create an aura of stability, sealing for itself an incumbency advantage the next elections. No doubt, cries of rigging and foul play will be even louder than last time, but the PML-N has learnt how to get out of tight spots.

Stability is good, but not good enough. For Pakistan it means that the parties of the opposition have lost the challenge and cannot pose a threat to the ruling party. If it were not for the blessing of federalism, small parties, and even large ones like the PPP would have been decimated. This stability is not good enough because those at the helm of affairs aren’t ready to bring home wealth stashed abroad, neither are they clean of links to militant outfits, and in reality, the economy is just barely stabilising, no thanks to our economic managers or our own indigenous producers, but thanks to China. But reality takes a backseat, when the opposition is not able to give them a reality check.

PTI’s boycotts of parliament and PPP Co-Chairman’s self imposed exile after anti-army remarks have been two of the biggest mistakes the two parties have made. The PM’s remark that political rivalries need to be done away with may already be true because there is not much of a rivalry is there?

If stability is to mean social and political change beyond just military operations and highway construction, the opposition has to have a better strategy for social uplift. Their strategy is to react to the PML-N’s actions, rather than their own project of engagement with the masses to deliver social justice.