The government’s announcement of having finalised indigenous Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) has finally awoken the assumed-defunct Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) from its slumber. The opposition alliance had claimed that it would not rest until the government was sent packing, but nearly ten weeks of inertia questions the motivation opposition parties have had in working together and providing tough opposition for the government.

Key in all of this is of course the alliance itself. Cracks began to appear early on, and with differences on key issues such as the Senate Chairman and Leader of Opposition elections, any façade of the PPP and PML-N working together all but vanished. Once the PPP walked away, it was clear that the alliance would have a difficult time in setting itself against the government.

But while this was always predictable, does this leave no hope behind for the opposition? The opposition’s criticism of the government’s initiative to make voting electronic is no secret. But the public display of unity in this issue does not hold much credence when the alliance only has a cameo role in most national political activity. Just holding one press conference does not change much.

The opposition’s hiatus—some might claim that this is at least partially down to Covid-19—has cost all parties on that side of the house. Any political momentum accumulated was lost once the PDM split was witnessed.

The bigger problem however, is not down to lack of political activity, but as a result of poor opposition to issues in parliament. For the parliament to be completely effective, the opposition benches have a huge role to play in making sure that they represent their voters and make sure no policy of the government passes by without debate. This is missing in national discourse as of now. The opposition must do better. There are cogent reasons to oppose any policy—even the use of EVMs—but they must be based on a principle stance, instead of merely looking to stand against the ruling party merely for the sake of it.