A move that heeds a turn in the hitherto politics of confrontation between the three major parties in the polity, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) reached out to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with the desire to establish a working relationship while recognising the parliamentary might of the joint opposition.
For the previous decade, the parliamentary processes have been fettered by a feeble opposition. Apart from suffering from party disinterest, the forum has been reductively used to demonstrate political standoffs between unamenable factions of the polity through boycotts and absenteeism. Where PML-N has historically shown a general disinclination to take parliamentary affairs seriously and PTI has preferred to demonstrate its opposition largely outside the assembly, the role of the Opposition as a mitigative component of the Assembly has been largely disavowed leaving the parliamentary process shorn of egalitarianism. This term, the amalgamation of the grand opposition alliance stands to revitalise parliamentary politics where the PPP-PML-MMA-ANP alliance in the National Assembly, could create a formidable opposition for the governing party.
The Parliament has the following main functions: legislation (making laws), representation (acting on behalf of voters and citizens), executive oversight (examining the government), financial accountability. In an idyllic polity the opposition has a duty to their voters to play the role of an alternate government and to present their complementary views and policies before parliament. To remain credible and efficient, the current opposition has to be responsible, respectable and create policies that are relevant to the day-to-day lives of people - and not exercise opposition for the sake of opposition. The other main function of the opposition is scrutinizing the operations of the executive from the angle of performance and accountability and- relevant to the current economic crisis- financial oversight. This is where the opposition can provide checks and balances, and demonstrate how their policies might have achieved better results. Similarly, an efficient opposition brings to the fore the feelings of those sectors of society whose views may otherwise be ignored or unknown to the government. With both the party chairman and co-chairman in the NA, the PPP, with its socio-democratic rhetoric can effectively use the forum to argue for many promising salient features of its manifesto. Similarly, rights of minorities remain an issue that has to be vociferously lobbied with the status-quo.
This contouring of political alliances presents the opposition, as well as the governing PTI, with an opportunity to put aside party grievances and vitriol, and work in tandem rather than against each other, for the larger goal of revitalising democratic institutions and norms.