The opposition’s threat to unite in order to pressure the government is a game that has been played unsuccessfully so many times that it has started to feel like the boy who cried wolf. Every so often, when the government pushes the opposition’s buttons a step too far, the opposition parties hold meetings where they promise to convene an all-parties conference (APC), to devise a joint strategy against the PTI-led federal government. Yet in the days leading to the fabled conference, some mishap or distraction occurs, no real meaningful effort to form a united opposition is made, and they go back to being an ineffective bunch, bickering amongst each other and delivering pointless slights against the government.

This pattern is seemingly repeating itself again with the recent umpteenth attempt of the opposition to hold an APC. In late July, deciding to take advantage of the pandemic and in response to several laws being proposed by the government, PML-N’s leaders held a meeting with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the PPP’s headquarters in Lahore. The plan was to hold an APC conference after Eid-ul-Azha to announce a joint strategy to deal with the government.

Yet Eid has passed us by and the opposition’s self-assigned deadline stands void, as PPP says that it is ready to hold an APC but is waiting for PML-N’s signal. The laws that the opposition feared, mainly the ones regarding FATF and further control on financial corruption, have already been passed, with the opposition’s approval. While they were passed with amendments from the opposition, the fact that opposition parliamentarians voted to pass the bill despite the earlier agreement that they would not cast their vote, shows that they cannot mount a strong enough challenge to the government.

Two years have passed and though the opposition has had many opportunities, including voting one of their own for nominees for president, or getting together to pass a vote of no-confidence, they have fumbled on every one of them. Their failures despite their numbers indicate that this opposition will be unable to work out an actionable plan all five years.