Nobody could be happier about the breakdown of the opposition alliance than Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). If it is indeed true that the opposition is pitching two different candidates for the presidency, then it is setting itself on a sure path for failure and we might as well congratulate Arif Alvi, the PTI candidate, already.

Certainly it looks to be the case right now. We have had statements from all major parties, with the grand opposition alliance failing to reach an agreement in its previous meetings and fielding different candidates for the presidency. With PML-N fielding Maulana Fazlur-Rehman, perhaps the most divisive candidate they could choose, and PPP bidding Aitzaz Ahsan, it seems like a walk-over victory for Arif Alvi, who will have more than his share of votes now that the opposition is divided.

It is not surprising that the opposition effort broke down. The opposition effort in 2013 had also been full of conflict, with PPP and PTI rarely coming to terms on anything. What is baffling this time, however, is that the alliance did not fail because of fundamental differences between the parties but rather due to petty, inconsequential squabbling between the opposition politicians. Both PPP and PML-N stand united on issues such as rigging in the Elections and civil supremacy- yet are unable to set aside their personal differences to make a united opposition. The effort to field a joint candidate for the presidency did not break down because of an inability to find a suitable candidate- but rather due to a disagreement on how the candidate was chosen. From reports, it appears that the only issue which lead to that breakdown of the alliance is that PPP had unilaterally chosen Aitzaz Ahsan as the candidate- frankly, a small cost for the ticket of the President.

When politicians bicker, we all bear the brunt of it. The opposition leads the imperative parliamentary function of effective oversight of the executive; a divided and weak opposition renders more difficult the task of strengthening democratic institutions. Unfortunately, it looks like this opposition will spend more time opposing each other than keeping the government in check.

The function of opposition parties is to oppose-but there is a way to do it. Perhaps losing the last powerful position they could hope to grab will finally jolt our opposition parties to the realisation that the axe they are grinding against each other is actually aimed at their own selves.