The opposition is always considered to be the indispensable part of parliamentary system of government. The institution of the opposition has been evolved to exercise an effective control over the unfettered power of the executive in a parliamentary democracy. Therefore, the role of the opposition is, by no means, less significant than the government. It essentially ensures the smooth and efficient dispensation of democracy in a country.

The primary function of the opposition is to identify and point out the erroneous or flawed policies formulated and enforced by the government. It generally criticises the ill-conceived or poorly-executed plans, and inappropriate executive actions taken by the government. It also plays a crucial role in the entire legislative process by critically analysing the proposed legislation in the parliament.

Therefore, a vigilant, vocal and vibrant opposition is sine qua non for a qualitative dispensation of democracy.

As a matter of fact, besides the non-existence of good governance, there has been a serious question relating to the performance and efficiency of the opposition in Pakistan. Owing to multiple reasons, the opposition has never been as active, vocal, and vigilant as it is supposed to be. Just like the government, the opposition has also failed to perform its institutional role effectively and efficiently. Lack of competence, and general indifference on the part of opposition parties in the parliament have led the deterioration of this crucial institution in the country.

In Pakistan, the attitude of ruling political party towards the opposition parties has not been so positive. There has been a general tendency to suppress the dissidence by force. The ruling elite has been misusing its official authority to victimise its political opponents.

Consequently, the opposition political parties have also been quite hostile and critical towards the serving regimes. Instead of focusing on the governance issues, they have been busy in criticising the personal conduct and character of the government ministers all the time.

Therefore, lacking objectivity and positivity, the opposition has constantly been adhering to the typical criticism-for-the-sake-of-criticism policy vis-à-vis the major public issues in the country. Presently this critical criticism has somehow become the most dominant characteristic of the institution of opposition in Pakistan.

Emerging as the second largest parliamentary political party in the country, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) retained the seat of Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly following the 2013 General Elections. However, instead of pro-actively playing the role of the opposition, the PPP chosen to become a friendly opposition by reciprocating the goodwill gesture extended by PML-N during the last tenure of PPP.

Since inking the Charter of Democracy (CoD) in 2006, the country’s two major political parties have been quite ‘accommodating’ and ‘co-operative’ to each other. Perhaps now the PPP, after concluding the most unpopular and inefficient political regimes in the history of country, finds it quite inappropriate, or rather difficult, to criticise the similar policies of the incumbent government.

On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI), which secured the second largest popular vote in the last general elections, also seems in no serious mood of playing the role of an opposition party in the Parliament. Including its single-minded chairman Imran Khan, PTI only seems to be obsessed with the issue of electoral rigging in the country for the last two years. Over this single issue, it has staged a 126-day long sit-in in Islamabad besides conducting other protest rallies across the country. Consequently, the three-member apex judicial inquiry commission was formed to probe the rigging allegations levelled by the PTI. However, despite the fact this inquiry commission has formally declared that “the General Elections-2013 were organised and conducted impartially, honestly, fairly, justly and in accordance with the law”, there has been no end to PTI’s rigging rhetoric.

After formally tendering their resignations during the sit-in in Islamabad, all the legislators of PTI chosen to stay out of the parliament for more than seven months. During this period, container’s top constantly replaced the floor of the parliament to discuss the crucial public issues. It looked as if the elector rigging is the only public issue in the country. Currently, the PTI is observably more interested in pursuing its selfish political goals than voicing the genuine grievances of the hapless masses by acting as a vibrant opposition political party.

Pakistan is currently facing multiple internal and external challenges. Terrorism has been posing a serious existential threat to it for many years. However, the civilian leadership, including the opposition political parties, have miserably failed to evolve any effective strategy to curb this menace for a long time. They hardly made any significant endeavor beyond holding APC’s on this issues. The chronic energy crisis in the country still remains unresolved. Despite certain positive macro-economic indicators, the general state of country’s economy is yet not satisfactory. There are many crippling economic issues like the stagflation, low economic growth, inflation, unemployment etc.

Currently, a sizable portion of the population is leaving below the poverty line. Similarly, public sector corruption is on the rise, but no significant anti-graft body is efficiently operating in the country.

The so-called establishment has readily filled the administrative vacuum created by the indecisiveness and inaction of the civilian government. Now it is alone making crucial decisions in the areas ranging from national security to foreign relations. Similarly, on the other hand, the media has observably assumed the role of the opposition in the country. Presently it is actively preforming the essential functions of the opposition. It is extensively criticizing incumbent government’s policies and the conduct of the members of the ruling political party.

During the last couple of years, the media has unearthed many mega corruption scandals, namely the Nandipur Power Project scam, Rental Power Projects scam, NICL scam, Hajj corruption scandal, Pakistan steel Mills scam, LPG quota scam, Ephedrine case, BOP scam, OGRA scam etc.

Bedsides the government, the opposition is also somehow responsible for the current miserable state of affairs in Pakistan. Its ambiguous, and rather dubious, attitude towards the basic governance issues has made things even worse. The inaction on the part of the government and the opposition has considerably undermined the democratic institutions in the country. Therefore, now both the government and the opposition should proactively play their respective institutional role to overcome the underlying hardships faced by the country. Surely, the current ‘no governance, no opposition’ sort of political policy adopted by our parliamentarians will get the “fifth largest democracy in the world” nowhere.