Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday announced the constitution of a scientific committee to "resolve [the] moonsighting controversy" that rears its head in the country every year prior to religious festivals.
The five-member 'Ministry of Science and Tech Committee' will replace the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee for the sighting of the moon, Chaudhry had earlier told Dawn.
According to an office memorandum shared by the minister on Twitter, the panel will be responsible for finalising the calendar to indicate the exact dates of Ramazan, Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha and Muharram for the next five years "with 100% accuracy".
The convener of the committee is Dr Muhammad Tariq Masood, the joint scientific adviser (IL) at the Ministry of Science and Technology. Its other members include: Waqar Ahmed, lecturer, Department of Meteorology at Comsats University Islamabad (CUI); Nadeem Faisal, deputy director, Met Department; Abu Nasan, deputy director, Met Department; and Ghulam Murtaza, DCM, Suparco, Islamabad.
Talking to Dawn earlier, Chaudhry had said he had great respect for Mufti Muneebur Rehman but did not agree with the way the moon was sighted by the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.
He said the way of sighting the moon by Islamic schools of thought of Imam Hambal and Imam Shaafai was different. “Imam Hambal supports physical sighting of moon while Imam Shaafai recommends scientific ways for it,” he added.
Chaudhry questioned why the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee used telescopes and sought assistance of the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) if it followed Imam Hambal’s way of physical sighting of the moon. He made it clear that the government would not force people to follow the calendar issued by the scientific committee.
The minister also said he would send the proposal to abolish the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee to the federal cabinet soon.
The National Assembly was informed recently that an amount of Rs3.06 million was spent on the sighting of the moon for Muharram, Ramazan, Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha last year.