The opposition against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is having trouble agreeing on the next move going forward. The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) is pushing through on its long march plan, still hoping for mainstream Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to join this political show of strength based on a one-point agenda – an early exit for the current government and re-elections in 2020. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman’s attempts to bring other parties into this movement is completely understandable; going all in and demanding for the government to go home is going to take more than one political party marching to Islamabad.

As far as PPP and PML-N are concerned however, both political parties have lost significant chunks of their top leadership to the government’s accountability drive and are naturally wary of taking such a drastic step in their absence. Bringing all opposition parties together is made much harder by the fact that many parties are currently internally divided over what the next step should be; with leaders arrested, the PML-N and PPP’s response to their stated stance of the government being incompetent and unable to run the country has been lacklustre at best.

Failing to agree on what they want is dampening the efficacy of the opposition as a whole. The strategy of maximum disruption in parliament should be revisited, considering that the opposition has not managed to substantially affect the ruling party from running matters of state. As such, the opposition looks like it has been reduced to the role of an innocent bystander, without any action taken.

However, this is not to say that the long march strategy is any better. JUI-F must realise that the make-it-or-break-it approach to politics is unwise. Having a one-point agenda and looking to get it accepted through a march is a zero-sum game; either Maulana Fazl will manage to succeed and give his party a boost, or he will fail and PTI will come out looking stronger, having defeated what will perceived to be a bid by the opposition to send it packing. Quite obviously, the odds are firmly stacked against JUI-F in this scenario; his long march then, might do more to hurt the cause of the opposition than bolster it.

Peaceful protests that are issue-based, instead of one-point agendas, are the most realistic option for the opposition in the current scenario. An insignificant and ineffective opposition is doing to alleviate the problems of the public, which might have been caused by the policymaking of the government. Opposition parties should instead look to do what they claim; represent the people and ensure that any of the government’s problematic policies are disputed, both in parliament and on the streets, if necessary. Well-thought out demands for policy reversals instead of a bold one-point agenda will provide a path towards opposing the government in a meaningful way and becoming the voice of the people in the process.