It has been a strange few months for the main opposition party; Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PMLN). The Imran Khan government went through turbulent times, with one challenge after another being thrown in front of it, yet the opposition, which normally looks for every chink in the armor it could find, stayed oddly quiet. What can explain this reluctance to participate? Furthermore, with a high-level party meeting underway in London, what can be expected from the party in the future?

The recent past provides three distinct examples. During the Maulana Fazlur Rehman led sit-in at the capital the PML-N sent only token representation, and decisively ruled out joining its strength to the Azadi March. During the highly embarrassing COAS extension saga, the party stayed strangely silent as well, letting the chips fall where they may without trying to exert any pressure on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). During the Student Solidarity March, the party publicized its stance belatedly, when the government had already indicated that it will look into fulfilling the demands of the movement. Most puzzling of all has been the silence of Maryam Nawaz. Usually an outspoken critic of the government, especially on social media, the prospective leader of the PML-N has been absent from the public’s eye; in stark contrast to her opposition counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto. Many have speculated that Nawaz Sharif’s departure to London for medical treatment has something to do with this strategic silence. Yet, with the government adamant to ensure his return, and the matter of the extension legislation hanging over the government, the PML-N has conflict on its horizon.

PML-N has stayed tight lipped about its stance on the extension legislation at the meeting in London; the party knows it has the all the leverage it needs. But will we witness the return of the combative opposition, or one that’s seeks to cash in its leverage remains to be seen.