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Opposition’s new strategy

The opposition parties have apparently sensed an opportunity worth exploiting, as the PTI-led federal government struggles to resolve the issues including appointment of the DG ISI and inflation. The PDM leadership has announced that it will be launching a public protest campaign starting with public rallies and jalsas aimed at tapping into the discontent triggered by rocketing inflation.

Right now, the opposition potentially has weapons to use, as indicated by the recent speeches. The price hike, a perceived rupture between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the establishment and subsequent dent in the government’s accountability credentials are all ammunition against the ruling party’s regime.

The PDM has also held a well-attended rally in Faisalabad that featured blistering speeches by both Maryam Nawaz and Maulana Fazlur Rehman. This was followed by a successful jalsa by the PPP in which Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the days of the Imran Khan government were numbered.

However, the opposition should have learned from its mistakes. For the government to feel the heat, the attack must be sustained and consistent. It is true that since then inflation has climbed higher, and the relationship between the PTI government and the establishment may have soured, but there are few indicators that the opposition parties are in a strong position.

The recent speeches by opposition leaders are apparently widening the split between PTI and the establishment, and an attempt is being made to leverage this rupture to amplify the popular discontent over inflation and misgovernance.

Though it is facing a few setbacks, the government is not really facing a crisis. The opposition parties are afflicted by their own internal divisions and struggle which may dilute the impact that they would want to have on the current political situation. The PPP still remains outside the PDM, while the PML-N remains conflicted between the hardliners and the pragmatists.

Meanwhile, the requests from the government remain the same. Deliver on promises made, reduce prices and make the economic situation perceivably better. Public opinion is fickle and actual progress in terms of growth can even sometimes take a backseat compared to more immediate issues such as inflation. If the PTI can work on resolving these issues effectively, the rallies might not translate into any real pressure.