City Notes

Just in case there is any doubt, it’s still February. Yes, it’s a leap year. There’s an extra day this February. There’s one every four years. Except for years divisible by 100. Unless they’re divisible by 400, in which case they’re leap. So 2000 was a leap year. As I was born a long time after 1900, and will probably not live to see 2100 (and if alive at that time, probably be so gaga that I won’t notice anything), I will not see (at least, not to notice) a centenary year free of a leap year. Well, at least a leap year has an extra day. There are also leap seconds, slipped in to ensure that the time as measured by the earth’s rotation doesn’t get out of sync with atomic time. We’ve had 26 leap-seconds added since 1972, the last one being added only last year. What happens is that the last minute of a designated day is 61 seconds long, not 60. In fact, that’s what the extra day in a leap year is for.

But it was perhaps not in honour of the leap year (which always coincides with the year of an Olympiad) that Asif Zardari spread confusion. Had he said that COAS Gen Raheel Sharif should have his tenure extended? He said he hadn’t. I wonder how General Raheel reacted to the former President’s support. And then its withdrawal. And all from abroad.

The statement, and withdrawal, seemed a revival of the debate over the COAS’ retirement, and the blithe assumption that it was up to the COAS to decide, not his notional superiors. This was a demonstration the government would have preferred not to have had, what with the appointment of a new Governor of KP showing the only way the incumbent of an office can determine the succession: by resigning. Yes, the resignation of Mahtab Abbasi forced Mian Nawaz Sharif to pick a new one. And that was Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, whose name reflects the village, not his temperament. Still, he may well be felicitously named to be the constitutional head of a province whose chief minister looks more like a TB patient than most TB patients. Has Jhagra been appointed for life, like the Sindh Governor? Well, only time will tell.

Well, presumably he will have a better time that Fazlullah Wahidi, the former governor of Afghanistan’s Kunar province, who was kidnapped while on a visit to Islamabad, and recovered from that city. I assume that kidnapping is not the only fate of Afghan governors when they leave office. But still, Jhagra belongs to a village in Peshawar district, which was once upon a time Afghanistan’s summer capital, so he should watch the fate of predecessors very closely. Admittedly, one was gunned down, Lt Gen (retd) Fazle Haq, but then he was a martial-law governor, so Jhagra shouldn’t worry. But he does have a surname which he must fight against, proving himself its antithesis.

At the same time, while appointing a KPK Governor with an aggressive name, the government has to decide about what it will do with the cricket team, which went down to a shameful defeat in the T20 World Cup to India. In fact, the only Indian who didn’t mind was Narendra Modi, who feels that all Indo-Pak matches should follow that pattern.

There was no such thumping victories in either North Carolina or Nevada, but Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton duly won, and were thus on course for their respective parties’ nominations. Though they didn’t pull out, New Hampshire winners Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, of the Republicans and Democrats respectively, didn’t win. Jeb Bush did. He is the son and brother of George Bush and George W. Bush, but has not won statewide office in Texas, from which his father was once Senator and his brother Governor. As Cruz is also a Senator from there, it makes sense that he does not pull out.

With India having lost interest in the US presidential race after its favourite son, Indian-American Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Governor, ended his bid for the Republican nomination, it was left to celebrate the defeat of the Pakistan cricket team. Well, Pakistan is nothing if not a glutton for punishment. It has sent across a team to investigate the Pathankot attacks. Let’s see how India beats it in the home match. But until Pakistan simply hands over, without investigation and simply on India’s say-so, anyone India names, the Saffron Brigade (currently headed by Modi) will not be satisfied. Oh yes, and until the Pakistan team rolls over as efficiently as they did on Saturday.