The heated political opposition of today is missing some key personalities. PPP may rile up a storm with its passionate speeches in the National Assembly, and PML-N MPAs may be giving the government a hard time in the Punjab assembly, yet with the mysterious silence of the two people who were supposed to be the face of the resistance- Maryam and Nawaz Sharif, the opposition effort seems lacklustre.

Known to have whipped up a massive crowd for his rallies, Nawaz Sharif, with his confrontational style, single-handedly popularised the slogan “mujhay kyun nikala” and changed the narrative around his disqualification to that of a battle for civil supremacy. However, since his release from Adiala jail, the PML-N leader has been virtually absent from the opposition scene, keeping a strict silence on any issue ranging from the new government’s policies to his stay in prison. Even more surprising is the absence of his fiery daughter, Maryam, who kick-started PML-N’s thunderous presence on social media, and was known for being more confrontational than her father. Nawaz Sharif’s refusal to join the APC indicates that he doesn’t have any plans to end his silence any time soon.

Have the lion and the lioness finally been tamed? This unexplained shying away has mystified many leading some to speculate that the three months spent in jail have worn down the PML-N leaders and made them willing to admit defeat. However, it should be remembered that Nawaz is an experienced life-long politician and this is not his first brush with prison. Statements of a political aide of the Sharifs indicate that the results of the by-elections have given Nawaz confidence and convinced him that sitting back and waiting for the new government to make mistakes is a better long-term strategy. It seems that the advice of old PML-N members, of cooperating with the judiciary instead of rallying against it, has resonated with Nawaz finally, after all these months.

However, for the short term, this silent approach is certainly hurting the opposition effort. It is a strange time where the opposition is strongly riled up, sometimes quite unfairly, against the government with attacks coming from left and right. Yet due to the disunity, the effort has not amounted to any results for the opposition- perhaps most glaringly is the example of PTI easily passing the Punjab budget due to the PML-N boycott. Nawaz may be weighing his options carefully now but it may have costs for his party in the short-term.