Politics is about the big issues. About leaders, about the Constitution, about the laws of the land, international relations, trade links and much more. All this is important, but in everyday life, for common people, the big issues are often too big. It is the smaller issues that count; such as the prices of consumer goods, school fees and so on.
I am sure that Khan and Qadri know that everyday issues are important, but why then is the focus on who should be Prime Minister and why the land needs a new Constitution? They want the PM to go; if he stays, they say there should be new proof that he had really won the elections a year ago.
It has been all about the top-top, not about everyday life. To complain about the top issues is somehow easier and often with fewer consequences than to talk about the nitty-gritty where everyone can see the outcome. True, the spirit and action of top level politics have a trickle-down effect. But should we not talk instead about everyday issues, about things that influence people directly, and where we can all take part?
We should try to be the ‘good man in town’ and the ‘good woman at home.’ Well, nowadays, women are not only at home of course. Maybe we should focus less on Khan, Qadri and Sharif and more on what we can do where we are. Khan and Qadri should go do more of the good work they have done in the past at the micro level, and let big politics remain an activity on the side. We all have to live with the PM and government that has been elected. And if there will be changes, they will come from elections handled by parliamentarians; not by demonstrators in long marches.
I often make mistakes. Politicians make mistakes too, and for them it is even more difficult to admit. Have you ever heard an American Secretary of State, be it Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, admitting mistakes or expressing doubt about their judgment? No, never. They seem as infallible as the Pope, who according to his ‘job description’ doesn’t make mistakes – save for the fact that the current one, Pope Francis, seems to realize that he isn’t faultless after all – only making him greater in people’s eyes.
I was very impressed when a Nigerian president once said that he was not the best for the post of president, but he was the most acceptable. It was President Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who occupied the post from 1979-83. Whether he ruled well or not, I cannot say, but at least he was a humble and uncorrupt man, which was proven when he was tried after leaving office, (with the economy, however, in shambles).
We like leaders who do as well as they can, even if it isn’t fantastic, and we like them to be open about difficulties in finding solutions. They should debate with the public and not be above everyday life. Mistakes are made by leaders; their political choices and principles. We accept those, especially if there was openness before major decisions were made, and if implementation was not tarnished by carelessness and corruption. We allow a certain margin of fault.
I hope the current federal and provincial governments do their best in the interests of ordinary, needy people – and that also includes Khyber Paktunkhwa, where PTI is in charge.
It is also important for us ordinary people to express satisfaction when leaders make the right decisions, and not only complain when we disagree. Indeed, it is important to appreciate all the good men and women in town, the ordinary people around us, who keep the wheels turning and the country up and moving.
As a foreigner from a small, wealthy country, I ask myself: how would Norwegians have tackled the many everyday difficulties that ordinary Pakistanis have to put up with and solve as best they can? I do think Norwegians did well when we were a poorer country, less than a hundred years ago. Today, we have become spoilt and complacent. But we haven’t forgotten the past; and most people have a degree of understanding for the thankless work of top politicians, including the current Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, who came into power last year. She is a firm, yet humble woman. Recently, she said about an important topic, notably how to integrate immigrants into mainstream society: “That, we can only solve together.”
Sometimes, but not often, the opposition gives a positive response to what the sitting government does. In Sweden, where there is a general election in just two weeks on September 14th, the Labour Party, who is the challenger to the current conservative-centre government, expressed satisfaction about the policy of allowing a high number of Syrian refugees to come to Sweden, (at a time when most other conservative European governments are opposed to this). The possible future PM of Sweden, Stefan Lofven, is an ‘old fashioned’ labour union man from the country’s remote north, with not much more than a secondary school education. Yes, a man who knows better how things are on the factory floor and peasant communities than solely in the corridors of power.
It is important to realize that whatever we do in politics and everyday life, we must be sincere. We should understand the intentions behind Khan’s and Qadri’s current actions, but they should also try to understand the PM’s work as long as it is done in good faith to the best of PML-N’s ability and election promises. When we criticize, it must be within general norms and according to acceptable rules and regulations. In the end, we should realize that we all work for the betterment of the lives of ordinary people; they are the ones who, above the clatter of power, keep the wheels turning.

 The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist with experience in research, diplomacy and development aid.

atlehetland@yahoo.com