Let us get the unpleasant business over and done with first.

Remember those 200 billion dollars that the PTI was supposed to bring back the moment it came into power? Well, guess what? No, they do not exist. Yes, someone in the PTI made up the figure. No they are never coming back. Yes, the whole thing was a hoax. But moving on…

Remember cleaning up corruption in 90 days once the PTI came into power? Well, guess what? Not happening. If you are someone who actually believed this could happen, the joke’s on you. But moving on…

Remember the Prime Minister’s appeal to the overseas Pakistanis and his claim that Pakistan’s fiscal problems would be solved once he was in power because he would collect funds from the world over? Well, guess what? Those mega-dollars are a chimera, a charade, a figment of the fertile PTI imagination. Someone, somewhere had a rather simplistic notion of governance. But moving on…

Remember the lofty rhetoric about merit and how that would be the only criterion for appointments? Well, guess what happened? Friends miraculously qualified for merit more than non-friends, and IGs and DPOs got transferred on grounds that mock at merit. But moving on…

Remember the promises of turning Punjab into a model of good-governed Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and providing the province inspiring leadership that would trump the standards set by Shehbaz Sharif? Well, guess what? With a weak Chief Minister and three powerful political warlords in the shape of the Governor, Speaker and Senior Minister, no one’s sure who is in charge and who is providing the leadership that is required to turn Punjab into the Promised Land. The video leak on Saturday showing a PML-Q minister complaining to Jehangir Tareen about the Governor confirms the fears of multi-polarity existing in Punjab and threatening to derail the best-laid plans of the PTI. But moving on…

Remember the brouhaha over helicopters and first class travel and protocols and living in big houses and …well, guess what? The almost childlike exuberance has dissolved into ether as the humdrum of routine sets in. That radical change you were expected to see in optics? It’s just that — optics. But moving on…

Yes moving on to the harshness of reality that is, unsurprisingly, defining the contours of the famed naya Pakistan may be the most prudent thing to do as we approach the hundred days of the government. Now is as good a time as ever to do away with the façade of galactic radiance and accept the glorious ordinariness of the PTI.

No need to turn crimson. Behind all our self-professed brilliance lies a deep reservoir of ordinariness. It is an ordinariness that is nursed inside the lap of our rotten educational system, nourished by the inequality of law and cemented with the knowledge that it’s not what you know here but who you know.

Ordinary is not bad in this context. Ordinary is considered good enough. Imran Khan has to realise that as the Prime Minister, he is not competing with Winston Churchill but with Nawaz Sharif. He can still be a better leader than Sharif, but for that he has to defeat Sharif with the ordinariness that he has at his disposal.

Embracing his ordinariness is the best thing that Khan can do for himself, his party and his country. This would bring him down where he belongs — with us mere mortals — and it would bring his party to the level where it belongs: with the PML-N and the PPP.

With due apologies to William Shakespeare: “Hath not an Insafian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Noonie or a Jiyala is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh?”

The PTI should not forget that it is weaved from the same fabric, cut from the same cloth and tailored from the same shop. It sports the same people, grown from the same land, bred with same mindset, moulded by the same cultural and political environment, dyed in the same beliefs and armed with the same attitudes towards success, fame and profit.

And they are being judged on the same standards.

Despite this sameness, many in the party still harbour fantastic illusions about themselves. Many actually believe in their own fanciful rhetoric. But fantastic illusions and fanciful rhetoric is no match for the power of dogged ordinariness. It is such ordinariness that can enable the PTI to grapple with the nitty-gritty of governance and provide it space to make mistakes and learn from them. It is this ordinariness that will unshackle Imran Khan from the bounds of his own words and allow him to be treated for what he is: a well-meaning but infallible individual who — like all of us — is very good at some things and very bad at others.

Pakistan’s politics needs to return to normalcy. Such normalcy will breed stability. But this return to normalcy requires an acceptance of our ordinariness in which PTI ministers will also stumble and fall and do not need to be defended at all costs; in which the Prime Minister will be more careful — and okay — with choosing words he can live up to; in which the government in Punjab will be recognised for the mess that it is and heaven won’t fall; and in which events like court hearings, dharnas, challenges to the state writ and the bumbling incompetence of governments will re-acquire the ordinariness that usually defines them.

Once the baseline of this ordinariness is set to the low standard that we have all come to accept, Imran Khan can aspire to a performance less ordinary. In this performance he does not need to match Mandela — he just needs to be a bit better than Sharif. All will then be in peace. Our ordinariness unites us. It also provides a common challenge to the PTI: how can it be same same and yet different?

Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2018.