Roads that disconnect
So much of heritage is associated with the area and the scene has already changed quite drastically especially for those who are still undecided about embracing the current development model unconditionally. The alternative — something less protruding and less offensive, has gone undiscussed. Lahore has moved on.
The personal longing for what is and what ought to be, has to finally and always give way to the dominant needs of others, of the majority and before that, the needs of those who decide on everyone’s behalf.
The 18-metre long MBS vehicles that are being made somewhere in China are not run on sentiment but needs. They are not to be blamed for the emotional sideshows or for blocking the way for discussions on all other topics in Lahore right now. And acrimoniously or in admiration, it is impossible to separate the Turkish bus from its famously determined Pakistani pilot and the public examination scheduled in the coming months.
If it is a disaster, Shahbaz Sharif’s opponents have been unable to cash in on it, not at least in proportion to the size and scale of the project. If this is the Taj dedicated to a king’s love for his people, the dividends are yet to show and the public is yet to reciprocate. Some scepticism accompanied the Sharifian Motorway some 15 years ago but the Motorway was more hailed than decried before it actually connected Lahore with Islamabad. There were a few cries about its costs and criticism of its makers’ skewed developmental priorities but in the end the argument was clinched rather easily in favour of the new product and its creators.
The MBS has generated a greater prosand-cons debate in Lahore. This is perhaps because it is a big project unfolding right in the middle of a bustling urban centre that involves plenty of breaking before making.
More importantly, not everyone has been as stuck in the old as our adamant, arbitrary developers. These are definitely times where the talk about priorities has become much more serious and more informed than it was 15 years ago — which is a credit to the people.
The people have moved much faster than their rulers over these last few years. They are demanding participation, a right to debate over what they want and how much tax money they want to be spent on what.
Consequently, as loadshedding returns to Punjab big time and winters and gas shortages arrive, conversations these days are generally narrowed down to how the MBS money could have been spent on buying Punjab the energy it is in desperate need of. On the other hand, on an official level, no policy exists and no desire has been