For the first time since that tragic day in 2007, the Pakistan People’s Party returned to Liaqat Bagh. The significance of this moment was not lost on anyone. Garhi Khuda Bakh’s marble domes will forever host the remembrance of Benazir Bhutto’s martyrdom, but a return to the spot of her assassination is a far more symbolic event. This was PPP’s act of defiance, it returning to Punjab after having been restricted to Sindh after the last few general elections, a show of political force instead of a solemn ceremony. Attended by almost the entire leadership of the party all eyes were on Rawalpindi to see what trajectory the party would take in these uncertain times.

Such political observers were left sifting the rally for tangible points of action. The rally did not lack in flowing rhetoric, fierce criticism of the government and defiant posturing, but there was nothing new in any of these counts. PPP, especially the co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, has already been quite outspoken during this government’s tenure; in context and comparison to that, the rally was more of the same. It served as an important touchstone for party workers and leaders from the northern half of Pakistan, its impact beyond that is hard to gauge.

During the recent constitutional crises faced by the government both main opposition parties had remained largely silent. Both parties have similarly been tight-lipped on the COAS extension legislation debate. PPP has been publically toying with the idea of a mass national “contact movement” but hasn’t committed to anything specific. The politics of the opposition remains shrouded in uncertainty and non-committal stances. Many had assumed the Liaqat Bagh rally would serve as a platform to present a solidified stance on these issues, but it seems the PPP has chosen to maintain the status quo so far – perhaps to the detriment of the rally’s potential.