It appears to be that time of the political season when the opposition parties decide to finally set aside their differences and concoct a united plan to put pressure on the government. This time, it is the two major opposition parties—the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)—who are to coordinate and convene a multiparty conference post-Eid ul Azha to frame a joint anti-government strategy. The plan is also to form a joint coordination committee in order to bring on board other parties in opposition to present a stronger front to the government.

The most immediate reasons behind holding the MPC are proposed amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law, which would allow the anti-corruption watchdog to increase the time period to nearly double for detaining an accused. Both PPP and PML-N have been hit hard by NAB, with several of their party members having warrants and investigations lodged against them. The MPC is in the works mainly to unite to put pressure against passing amendments which the opposition credibly fears will be used against it.

However, while the opposition has objectives it would consider genuine, how effective the MPC will be remains to be seen. It would not be wrong to say that the opposition’s attempts to unite in the past have miserably failed—they have not been able to get together to achieve any significant wins or positions. Thus, before embarking on this venture, opposition parties need to look back and see why its repeated attempts at coming together have time and time again been fruitless. It is hoped that after two years of being the opposition, they might learn how to be productive at it too—instead of rallies and inflammatory speeches, perhaps more will be done if the opposition sought work in procedural and parliamentary matters—like countering the government through policy briefs, well-drafted bills and other realistic alternatives. If the opposition does not aim to use its numbers to win parliamentary victories or positions, then what are the real options left to it?