With 7.5 million voters, the election of the mayor of Lahore looks like a contest of the times. As a son of Lahore who grew up on the mall near the historic Lahore Municipal Corporation (LMC) building, I decided to get into this fight. After opening my campaign office in my sector property at the Anarkali-Mall intersection, I started doing some homework. The very first friend I spoke to wanted to know my election budget. He laughed hard when I revealed the budgeted amount of Rs 5 Million (0.5 Crores).
He suggested a minimum amount of Rs 50 Million (5 Crores) which confused me. Then I decided to get in touch with political heavyweights who had recent experience of participating in national elections. I was shocked at the finances required to access this coveted office, according to their professional estimate, an amount of Rs 500 million is required (50 Crores).
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This raises a question: is it an election or an investment?
If it is an investment then there must be a return (ROI: Return on Investment Plan). In the event of an election, a road map of service to the population is necessary. Considering the overall decline of my city and country over the past four decades, this has turned into a great company with some very impressive / unbeatable ROI numbers. Once the duel is over and the mayor’s mandate has begun, it is usually a return to the old ways, “no money, no service”. The mayor enjoys the advantages of his office until the end of his mandate. Ultimately, he has nothing but excuses and stories to share and a personal empire to enjoy but no results to show on the pitch.
Sewer gutters continue to overflow, the town remains littered with a lack of basic amenities as the ‘Lord Mayor’ watches helplessly from his office in the historic building from which the town of Iqbal and Faiz was once functional . Even the massive public transport system was launched from there on the London model. Buses and double-decker buses operated on the roads via LOS (Lahore Omni Bus Service).
Even today there is a place on Ferozepur Road near Mozang Chungi called ‘LOS Stop’ but no ‘Bus’. Instead, the highly subsidized âmetro bus serviceâ and the above-ground âorange metro trainâ place a financial burden on the treasury. The cash-rich LOS was replaced by the ‘Urban Transport Corporation whose depot on Ferozepur Road near Garden Town was taken over to build a huge plaza under the guise of foreign investment that never came. Now, a huge fenced area unearthed poses a serious security problem for the unfortunate people who live around it.
While the seat of power in the Indian subcontinent was Delhi, two cities had special significance (Lahore, Calcutta). Quaid-e-Azam called Lahore the âHeart of Pakistanâ while Quaid-e-Awam called it the Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) of Pakistan. The resolution for the new territory was adopted here in March 1940. The two main genuine political parties were also launched here (Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), all the others came from Rawalpindi. I was fortunate and honored to grow up in this city of the intellect that produced six Nobel Prize winners, perhaps the only place in the world.
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Sadly, now I am enduring the pain of its decline mainly due to the mismanagement and looting that continues unabated. In the past Nadir Shah came from the North for the siege and looting of this historic commercial center in the region. Some popular terms to define this phenomenon have also been coined here, “Khaya Pai Ly Da Baki Nadir Shahi Da” (Nothing is safe from Nadir Shah except what one has consumed). As the city grew and prospered until 1985, before being attacked again by “Nadir Shahi”. The city’s archives were burned and its land seized by powerful “Qabza groups”. This time around, the Mafia came from the interior and not from the north through the historic Khyber Pass.
In 1975, a resolution was passed by the legislature to shut down the âDepartment of Settlement and Rehabilitationâ, as most of the properties had been settled by then. The BOR (Board of Revenue) has been tasked with handling outstanding cases. In 2014, in order to facilitate the âQabza Groupâ, the BOR issued a directive under which all settled cases were reopened for the examination of property documents in violation of the law of 1975. No real estate transaction can take place if the papers are not verified by the BOR. The procedure opened the floodgates of corruption with harassment of the owners.
Today (December 28, 2021) around noon I was returning after a hearing at the Punjab Information Commission office located on Nursery Lane next to Lawerence Road where the road was blocked by a White Land Cruiser and a car from escort with green plates. With great difficulty I finally managed to pass, after exam I saw the mayor of Lahore casually talking to some of his friends oblivious to the traffic danger he had created. I shouted “Mayor Sahib you blocked the road”, hearing my cry he was kind enough to apologize which was quite unusual for the customary arrogance of people in authority.
Colonel (Ret’d) Mubashir Javed the incumbent is a retired Corps of Engineers officer, surprisingly he’s more popular in the corrupt party he joined after retirement than his uniformed peers . While the city remains in shambles, the mayor appears to be reaping the benefits of the office by using expensive transportation that causes roadblocks for the public. It was the government of Muhammad Khan Junjo that had restricted all government agents to using cars under 1000 CC. In the original 100-day plan of the PTI, it was proposed to restrict official transport to less than 1300 CC, but it seems that the austerity measures have been neglected.
I plan to write an article on city leadership titled; “From Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain to Mian Amir Mahmood”. As empires were being built by these individuals, the city sank in filthy gutters and the stench of rubbish. Lahore has been under the reign of Nadir Shahi since the time of Chaudhry Sahib. I don’t need to say much about the phenomenal growth of the Mian Amir Group after his four-year tenure. Recently, I saw an article about Kesha Ram, the great-great-granddaughter of legendary city son Sir Ganga Ram, who was sworn in as a Vermont State Senator in the United States.
Read more: Past, present and future of Pakistan
While Ganga Ram’s legacy is everywhere in the city, our Chaudhry’s are nowhere to be found, nothing to write home about. Lahore needs a mayor who can restore the glory of the city of Dr Iqbal and Ganga Ram, where people can live in comfort and peace as before the Desi Nadir Shah took control and started his life. decline through uncontrolled loot and plunder. The ‘Kim’s Gun’ faces the Museum, it’s time to change direction towards the Mayor’s office forcing him to work for the city or suffer the consequences. It is only through a well thought out ideology that my Lahore can be transformed into Lahore where I have opened my eyes and played on its manicured grounds. No more “Nadir Shahs” in the 21st century, it is time for ideology to move forward.
The author is the former president of the Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be reached at fma[email protected] The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.