LAHORE: The school holidays were extended, but after seeing what would happen if the schools were opened on time. The reasons they have for declaring a school holiday don’t seem to have happened. We aren’t at war. Nor was there too much snow. In fact, there wasn’t any, let alone enough to force traffic off the roads. I suspect that somebody’s child went to school, and returned with either chattering teeth or a heavy cold. Or may just a complaint. The Chief Minister and Education Minister both are of an age to have school going kids. I hope schools stay open this week, and today won’t prove just another trial run.
Well, the extra holiday was wasted on the young people, because they did not follow the great events that were making everyone so exercised. Abroad, Iran was showing us how a general officer should be mourned. I remember the grand funeral that Ziaul Haq had, and that matched up. But though the funeral of Gen Asif Nawaz, who died in office as COAS, back in 1993, was very large, the one that General Qasem Soleimani had in Tehran was larger. General Soleimani was merely a major general, which is indeed an Olympian rank, but it was not appropriate for him to have a bigger funeral than a senior officer, though of a different country.
Iran had a harder job than the USA. Look, the USA just had to kill him. With the entire Iranian nation watching on, the Iranian government had to respond in a way that would not take any American lives, while satisfying honour. Plus, the USA has said that any response would not be tolerated. So the Iranian government had to do something which showed that it would take revenge, but at the same time not harm the USA. So it shot down a Ukrainian airliner, which killed everyone on board, 176 people, crew and passengers.
Of course, even the Iranians tried to present it as an accident. But it was a pretty strong signal that any plane that took off from Tehran Airport could be shot down. That means that any US plane taking off from Tehran had better watch out. Of course, US airlines are not allowed to fly out of Tehran, but the point has been made, right?
Note that Iran is friends with Russia, and Russia is at war with Ukraine, having taken Crimea away from it. Back in the 19th century, the UK went to war over Crimea in alliance with the Turks. Persia had long also been at war with the Turks, though it had made its peace and was not in the Crimean War. So a Ukrainian airline flying in Iran was taking a risk.
Well, while Iran was busy shooting down Ukrainian airliners, here in Pakistan, our Parliament was doing something much more urgent, which was to pass a series of Acts which allowed the extension in the tenure of the service chiefs, including the Army Chief. There has to be something wrong with a system that allows civilians to decide about laws governing four-star officers. Anyhow, all’s well that ends well, and the law has passed, and the opposition parties did what they were supposed to. Why do they remind me of the kid in class not satisfied with putting up his hand when the teacher asks a question, but who has to jump up and down in the hope of getting picked?
Speaking of the military, a dead general, and the temperature, I am reminded irresistibly of a poem by Rudyard Kipling, which I had to read during a misspent youth,
‘What makes the rear-rank breathe so ’ard?’ said Files-on-Parade.
‘It’s bitter cold, it’s bitter cold,’ the Colour-Sergeant said.
‘What makes that front-rank man fall down?’ said Files-on-Parade.
‘A touch o’ sun, a touch o’ sun,’ the Colour-Sergeant said.
They are hangin’ Danny Deever, they are marchin’ of ’im round,
They ’ave ’alted Danny Deever by ’is coffin on the ground;
An’ ’e’ll swing in ’arf a minute for a sneakin’ shootin’ hound—
O they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin!’
That was the execution of a British soldier in India. It’s speculated that the execution of Private Flaxman in Lucknow inspired the poem. I would have thought the reference to the ‘touch of sun’ and to the ‘bitter cold’ caught the weather, but it seems they were excuses for both the trembling and the occasional fainting: the regiment had come to see one of their mates being hung for murder. I wonder if there was ever a hanging in Lahore. Well, there have been hangings aplenty, but in the military? Danny Deever was hung for shooting a comrade.
Whether or not any soldier was hung at Lahore, the bush fires in Australia still go on. More results of the Chinese conspiracy to stop America from becoming great again, which is what Donal Trump says global warming is. China has also got to stop the American conspiracy against it in Hong Kong, where the protests are continuing. Why? Well. So long as things are peaceful here.