The Multiparty Conference (MPC) in Islamabad on Wednesday was another step taken by the opposition to unite against the government in a bid to launch a street campaign to criticise its policies. Hosted by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), major leaders of the PML-N, the PPP, ANP and other opposition parties were in attendance, and the growing unity among the ranks of the opposition should be a cause for worry for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government. With the economic conditions of the country steadily worsening and major opposition leaders addressing grievances against the accountability drive being used as a means for political victimisation, the ruling party’s failure to address the concerns of the opposition might end up creating more problems for the government if they choose to not engage with them at this early stage.

The opposition has taken a year in this term to set itself up to offer any real form of resistance to the government’s policies, and given that its voice in parliament has all but fallen on deaf ears, a protest movement is currently the only realistic option available to the parties that are not in government.

Other proposals were also under consideration, such as the call by Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman of the JUI-F to resign from all seats to invalidate the parliament – however, with only a year since the general elections with the country looking to recover from a dangerous economic situation, depriving the people of their mandate by looking to topple the government would be very unwise.

Opposition parties, particularly the PPP and the PML-N must remember that they have claimed to respect the supremacy of the democratic process above all else, and changing tack now just because they are out of government would not only be going against everything we have heard from them in recent years, it would also take a the country more than a few steps back.

Peaceful nationwide street protests and contact campaigns to generate public support against governmental policies is well within the right of all political parties, and it is positive that opposition parties are finally looking to voice their dissent both within and outside parliament. If any protest campaign against the government is to be successful, exactly what the opposition is trying to achieve must be clear from the very beginning; is changing the budget the ultimate aim or is this a bid to topple the government, however unsuccessful this might prove to be. Asking for the government to change its strategy when it is not working is all well and good, but the PML-N and PPP lawmakers should remember how disruptive long campaigns can be for the progress of the country.