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The opposition is finally having the long-delayed All Parties Conference (APC) in Islamabad to find a future course of action against the government. Unlike previous such gatherings, this will also be a rather futile exercise and unlikely to have any impact.
Prominent politicians attending the APC include PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Zardari and Nawaz Sharif will be attending via video link and the government has hinted at shutting his address from going on air. The PML-N leader is currently in London and has been declared an absconder in several cases.
The efforts to bring the opposition on a platform may have succeeded but the APC is unlikely to achieve anything beyond. The opposition remains disunited, disjointed and rather dysfunctional. This can be assuaged from the fact three FAFT-related bills were passed from a joint sitting of parliament despite the opposition having a majority. The bills were passed with a majority of just ten votes while over 32 members of the opposition were reportedly missing from the joint session.
The opposition is frustrated that it is unable to bring down Imran Khan’s government neither has there been a scandal that can be used against them. The APC will witness highly charged speeches and lofty claims but not much. Zardari is in frail health and unable to take much responsibilities, while Nawaz Sharif is abroad and unlikely to return anytime soon. JUI-F chief’s march to Islamabad was a flop and he is unlikely to pull something even remotely close.
The only hope that the opposition has to take on the government is Bilawal and Maryam Nawaz. Both are young and will be able to handle the challenges as opposition leaders. However, Maryam was been confined to her home ever since her sentence was suspended and even more after an appearance before NAB led to riots. Shehbaz Sharif, on the other hand, has always adopted a policy of non-confrontation with state institutions.
In this context, it can be concluded that APC has failed before it has been started. It needs to be seen if the opposition comes with any concrete action against the government. Otherwise, the APC will be confined to being a mere talk shop and will be unable to make a significant difference.