Well. The real development to be spoken about in this most infuriating of cities is that the Metro Bus Service is going through its teething troubles, but it is very much there. At the same time, it has not been yet absorbed into the life of the city. It has not yet begun to be part of the ordinary conversation of Lahoris, and until it is mentioned casually, I doubt if the Chief Minister will be satisfied he has done a good job. There was a light reference to it during his meeting with the MPAs who were joining from the PPP, when it was said that the MPAs could take the Metro Bus to see him, but ordinary citizens are more concerned about the fare.

And the fare has been introduced. At the same time, that has not had the effect of reducing the crowds that are using the Metro Buses. I suppose the drivers were trained here, because there have already been accidents. Of course, an accident is a much more serious thing for these buses, because they can’t just be replaced. But when I see two or more buses going past (as I often do from a parallel lane), without them racing one another, I am left wondering whether the drivers have been imported. Certainly, wagon drivers cannot resist a race, and it seems that they all think themselves Formula One drivers fallen on hard times.

It is almost as if a very poor man has somehow got hold of an elegant dinner set. In the end, when things get smashed, everyone blames him, but the poor man isn’t so much to blame as his poverty. And the dinner set is ruined.

There are so many things to be done on the MBS. The area under the raised bus lane has still to be organized. The intersections still need traffic lights. Model Town, at the point where the new underpass debouches into it, also needs one, though it has gone so many decades having controlled its traffic without one. But most important, the homeless have to be settled under the bus lane. However, that is the task of the summer. You know, all of those people who gather on those traffic islands which are still green during summers, mostly daily-wage labourers. Wait and see, they will all be sleeping under the bus lane. In fact, that is probably why the MBS can’t be replicated in a city like Calcutta, with so many people living on the pavement. All of those pavement dwellers would be below the bus lane before the inauguration.

However, the MBS has been inaugurated, well in time for the next election, which is why so many PPP MPAs switched over to the PML(N). It was almost as if they had waited for the MBS to be inaugurated before they made their move. There is little chance of finding PPP MPAs under the bus lane, for the party has long sought electables, and electables want to be in ruling parties. The PML(N) also wants electables, and you don’t find them under bridges. Well, Mian Shehbaz has tried, with results that the whole world has seen. The PPP response, bringing over the PML(N) Sheikhupura district leadership is not quite the same thing, and the threat to invoke the anti-defection clause seemed like sour grapes. This is especially true when the PPP Punjab President himself started a long political career in the Convention League. Well, one Secretary-General was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and another Ch Zahoor Elahi. Their sons-in-law are respectively President and Deputy Prime Minister.

However, that is a summer problem. For the mean time, we are in winter. In fact, the recent rain has meant the renewal of a season that is going away. We are already past the middle of February after all, and thus spring is around the corner. And since spring is such a brief affair, summer will soon be here. And it will bring elections. I hope the caretakers are ready to leave office, and the free airconditioning it will bring. As it is, the country as a whole will have to undergo not just voting, but also campaigning, while sweltering, and only because of a desire by the present government to complete its tenure. Whether re-elected or not, they will have to hand over to caretakers. And the bottom line is, they will not travel by the MBS. You don’t become a minister, caretaker or otherwise, to travel by bus. You assume the burden of public office to get a free car. And much else besides.