LAHORE - At this point in time both the Opposition and the Government are facing multiple challenges but of varying nature though.

If the government is facing the biggest challenge of averting the backlash of a shrinking economy, the opposition parties feel hard pressed due to the ongoing process of accountability which they believe is highly unfair and an obvious case of political victimization.

Opposition is fighting a battle of survival in these turbulent times amid multiple pressures coming from the ruling PTI which is determined to eliminate the leadership of the two main opposition parties from the political scene.

Their main leadership is in jails and some of PTI leaders claim credit for this. Some, however, say NAB is an independent institution and government has nothing to do with these arrests. Their young leadership is also facing NAB investigations. Maryam Nawaz has been called again by the accountability bureau in Avenfield reference case.

Of late, we have seen efforts on the part of government to cause defections in the two parties. A recent meeting of the PML-N and the PPP members from National and Punjab assemblies with PM Imran made headlines in the media, a move clearly aimed at making fissures in Opposition’s ranks. This has been done to pre-empt a possible no-confidence motion against the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister. Some analysts also view this move as part of PTI’s manoeuvres to end its reliance on the allied parties.

In Punjab, the PTI is heavily dependent on the PML-Q to keep a simple majority in the provincial assembly. Likewise, the MQM, the PML-Q and BNP-Mengal hold the key to sustain the federal government. This gives the allied parties a leverage to blackmail the government any time. New demands mostly in the form of more ministries keep coming from the allies from time to time. The government is visibly sick of these blackmailing tactics of its allies.

Also, people are bracing an unprecedented hike in prices of essential commodities. Prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products have already gone high and the government is considering to further jack them up in the coming months under the dictates of the IMF.

There is great unrest among the business community especially the small traders who are upset over government’s decision about documentation of economy. People in general are in a fix over whether to become a filer or to remain as non-filer. In both cases, the results are equally distressing. Traders have given a call for countrywide shutterdown strike on July 13 to agitate their grievances on the new FBR regulations. The nanbais (bread makers) closed their business in Peshawar the other day to express their disapproval against the recent raise in the prices of wheat flour. They say they could not sell the bread at government rates.

Lawyers’ community has its own issues against the government. They have also given a call for strike to press the government for their demands.

All efforts so far made by the government to woo the agitating communities have ended without any success. Punjab Governor Ch Mohammad Sarwar, Sindh Governor Imran Ismael, PM’s Adviser on Economic Affairs Hafeez Shaikh and Prime Minister Imran Khan himself held a series of meetings with the business leaders in the last one month but they have not been able to allay their fears.

Given these facts, the government is really in a fix to come out of the current imbroglio especially in a situation when the Opposition is trying hard to capitalise on government’s failures.

Setting aside their history of political animosity, the PPP and the PML-N are united against the government along with Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI-F. Jamaat-i-Islami led by its Ameer Sirajul Haq is also making its efforts to weaken the government. Leaders of all opposition parties including Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Sirajul Haq are addressing public rallies against the government to highlight people’s economic issues mainly originating from government’s inability to tackle the economic meltdown.

In the beginning, the opposition parties were least pushed to launch any movement against the government. They were inclined to cooperate with it and let it complete its constitutional term. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, however, was opposed to giving any such concession to the government.

The latest challenge coming from the joint opposition is the no-confidence motion submitted against Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani. It has clear majority in the upper house to bring its own chairman. Apparently, the government stands little chance of success in this encounter with the Opposition.

It will be interesting to watch all the future encounters between the Government and the Opposition. Apparently, both sides seem to be involved in a zero-sum game.

Who triumphs over challenges? It is yet to be seen.