For the first eight months of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s tenure, the government and the opposition have consistently been at odds. The floor of the parliament has never before been as full of ruckus and walkouts as the opposition continues to register its protest against the accountability cases against its leaders. With so much animosity, the chances seemed bleak that there might come a breakthrough for our elected representatives.

Yet stranger things have happened, and the first signs of a possible peace can be seen. Two leading PTI figures have spoken out about a dialogue with the opposition in order to hear their contentions and reach some form of negotiations with them. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi said on Sunday that he had invited leaders of all opposition parties, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif, for a dialogue on national security, and in that meeting, integral issues like the rise in prices, devaluation of the currency and creation of a South Punjab Province would be discussed. On the same day, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has said that the government is ready for a rational and meaningful dialogue with the opposition in parliament if it believes that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is overstepping its jurisdiction.

These offers do not seem like performative attempts to appease the opposition to be silent- both proposals for dialogue touch upon the two topics most that affect the opposition, where there is leeway for the government to make material compromises. There are three main issues which the opposition have voiced complaints against- mainly the rise in prices, alienation of the opposition in the creation of a South Punjab province, and most importantly that of NAB overstepping its jurisdiction. The opposition has a good case to make- it cannot function if its leaders are being targeted by the accountability courts. From Governor Sarwar’s remarks, it appears that the government is willing to work on NAB’s shortcomings if it found them, and the opposition leaders should not waste this occasion to bring about some much-needed reform in our accountability institutions.

There seems to be no reason why prominent opposition leaders should not accept the government’s offer for dialogue. The opposition should not squander this opportunity to meet the government halfway. They share the blame for the dysfunction of the parliament; they can help fix it.