On Saturday, August 20, 2022, while driving on Lawrence Road, I witnessed heaps of sewerage dirt on the road. It was an unbelievably dirty sight for a person who grew up in the full glory of the city of Lahore. I decided to park my car and gather information about this encroachment on my free and clean movement. I was told that the gutters had been cleaned by WASA (Water and Sanitation Agency) and the gutter silt was left behind as it was not part of their responsibility to remove it. Keeping roads clean in the job of the Municipal Corporation was their contention. Around 2 pm that day there was a heavy downpour, I am sure the entire dirt must have found its way back from where it was removed. In other words, it was an exercise in futility. There was a total lack of coordination with defective Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). I felt like crying for my abandoned city. Growing up on the Mall, I had the pleasure of walking down to my school every morning across the road from the historic Lahore High Court (LHC) building. The road was sparkling clean, with garbage removed and the pavements washed. On my way back there was a smooth flow of traffic as all road work was done at night. There were no VIP movements, everyone lived happily together. In the evening, they came out for a walk or visited the parks. We played cricket and hockey in Gol Bagh (Now Naseer Bagh). There was a Ghassi Ground (Ground with slides) on the site that was encroached upon by the Punjab Government to build the Planning and Development (P&D) Department. The city was run by the Mayor from the building of the Lahore Municipal Corporation (LMC) which has now been named the Metropolitan Corporation of Lahore (MCL). There was a time when the elected mayor ran the city. Garbage, schools, dispensaries, fire brigade, public transport, property tax etc were all controlled by the historic Town Hall located in Nasser Bagh at the lower end of Mall Road. Just one trip and the job was done. The system was centralised and well managed. As the city grew, decentralisation took place quite like the disastrous unbundling of WAPDA. First, it was Lahore Improvement Trust (LIT) which was tasked to develop the city. From LIT came the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and the decentralisation continued with the launch of several new departments (WASA, TEPA, PHA, LWMC etc). The big question is, who is running the city? No one seems to be in charge. There is a lack of coordination. Confusion prevails over the interfaces. WASA will clean the gutters but leave the dirt and the silt on the road for the people to bear. About two years ago, the Lahore Ring Road Authority (LRRA) requested a donation of trees. We agreed to plant 1000 saplings, and an agreement was reached with PHA to water them. I supervised the plantation but when I went to monitor the plants they were in bad shape so I called PHA, and their excuse surprised me, “Sir our water tankers are out of fuel.” I then called the DG LRRA who intervened but by that time, at least 20 percent of the plants had dried. Everyone has a cover-up story but no plan to get the job done. There was a sigh of relief when the government of Imran Khan announced direct elections for the mayor of Lahore. Seeing the decline of my city I decided to run for the position to reverse the slide down. I called my friend, comrade Pervaiz Saleh to seek his advice. He asked me about my election budget. My estimate of Rs 5 million was declared grossly meagre, he suggested an amount of Rs 50 million. Next, I met another comrade Aitzaz Ahsan, whose estimate was Rs 500 million (50 crore). It will perhaps be the largest electorate with 75 lakh voters directly electing their leader. Considering the resources required to contest, I was advised to forget about it. After such a heavy investment, the mayor of Lahore will get a chance to call the shots. Will he be able to reign in all the mafia-controlled departments that are responsible for ruining my city? I am angry at the plight but have not given up. Perhaps Lahore is the only city in the world that has produced six Nobel laureates, starting with Rudyard Kipling in 1907, when he was working for the newspaper Civil and Military Gazette whose office was located on the Mall. It’s time to wipe the tears and take back control of the once most vibrant cities of the Indian Subcontinent. Lahore will be the city of gardens, writers, poets, thinkers, Sufi Saints and even wrestlers once again.