If you hadn’t heard, leaders of the opposition parties on Sunday announced their plans to “launch protests inside and outside the parliament after Eidul Fitr” and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to “chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan”.

The announcement was made by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at a press conference that followed an iftar-dinner he hosted at Zardari House in Islamabad and which was attended by a delegation of arch rivals-turned-allies PML-N and other major opposition parties. Many have called this an interesting move, but doesn’t it all seem a little too familiar?

Why is the opposition always protesting?

Pakistan’s democratic history has been a weird and inconsistent one. Between political instability and military coups, democracy in Pakistan has never been able to take hold. It is only in recent years have we has a democratic system in place. We have only ever completed 2 full terms, both of which saw Prime Ministers deposed, with the third one happening as we speak. The reason I bring this up is because what these parties are doing by creating this grand alliance is within their democratic right, but comes off as more of a power-grab move we are all too familiar with. Bilawal insists this is in being done, “for the people.” Yeah, like we literally haven’t heard that before.

Does this really happen all the time?

Yes, it does. I know oppositions in government are supposed to keep the government in check. Their inherit job is to critique the government to ensure good governance. However, our oppositions always take it a step further. Rather than just critique the government, most of them will do anything to get the government out of power. Historically, nearly all of our oppositions do that. Heck, even the current government staged massive protests when they were the opposition. This is historically what they do, and it’s a big problem.

Does protesting do any harm?

Yes, it does. Sindh is going through one of the biggest health crises the province has ever seen, with over 200 reported cases of HIV being discovered. However the PPP government, which is in power in Sindh, is yet to address it properly. This is the biggest problem with oppositions constantly trying to take the government out of power; they ignore their responsibilities to their own people. Furthermore, when the opposition concentrates on taking the power away from the government, they do not do their duty in ensuring the government continues to function. With the main goal for all our oppositions is to take out the current government, the current government must always put in more effort into their plans to ensure that no one harms their projects. This takes away man-power and resources from the people.
Furthermore, with the Rupee being in the state that it is, does political instability seem like the best idea? More likely than not, mass protests by opposition worries investors in the economy. The Rupee will more likely fall more than it has already. And while many will just say this is how politics works, this is the problem. In the process of playing politics and trying to guarantee power, the people suffer.

So what can we do?

The best way to ensure these problems stop do not occur is by calling it out when you see it. Using your democratic voice to call out our rulers is the major power we have. Do not just fall along party lines, but judge actions and policies that benefit the masses. Tell our public figures enough is enough. No more games, we want progress.