After nine months since the parliamentarians took their oath of office, the opposition parties have kick-started their grand alliance. After several unsuccessful attempts at uniting the opposition, which included trying to pitch one candidate for President and similar power positions, the major opposition parties finally have managed to bring together some united opposition effort to counter the rival common to them all, the government party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). The iftari held, with representatives from eleven opposition parties, signified that effort, and it was influential enough to scare the government.

With the successful iftari, which managed to raise eyebrows around the country, now is the time for the opposition to move forward and demonstrate its influence as an alliance. If the iftari is not followed up by a protest or power play which sends a strong message to the government, then the iftari meeting will just look like a one-hit wonder, an opposition effort which was over before it began. Unfortunately, it looks like that is where this grandstanding alliance is headed to. The Opposition alliance, including the two major players, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has been hinting at a protest for long, yet this promised protest keeps being delayed. The last indication was “after Eid” but it seems that the PML-N has also walked that notion back, with PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz avoiding the topic and choosing instead to focus her wrath for the government’s incompetence.

It looks as if Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and head of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), is the only one banking on a protest by the opposition alliance. The JUI-F, who was appointed the convener of the MPC (multi-party conference) has directed his party workers to start preparations for a “big” anti-government “protest demonstration” to be held in Islamabad. It can be argued that Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who has been at the forefront of every opposition effort, has the most to gain with a united opposition, whereas Bilawal and Maryam have their own political influence, independent of the other parties.

Even if PPP and PML-N may not need JUI-F as much as the religious party needs them, a united opposition would still be in everyone’s favour. The parliament has been functioning without the necessary responsible oversight that an opposition is supposed to provide. If the parties don’t make a move signalling unity, then this opposition effort too will fizzle out.