KARACHI: The nation celebrates Eidul Fitr on Sun­day (today) as the Shaw­wal crescent was sighted on Sat­urday, the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee has announced. Chairman of the committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman made the announcement on Saturday night at the Met Complex along with officials of the Pakistan Meteorological Department and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission.

“There were conflicting reports about the moon’s sighting and it took time to analyse the authenticity of various eyewitness accounts under the advice of experts,” he said while explaining the reasons behind the delay in the announcement that was made a little after 10pm.

“Most of the witnesses belonged to Balochistan. We received credible reports from Chaman, Pasni and other parts of the province… We analysed all the possibilities and reached the consensus that the moon was indeed sighted and Eid would be celebrated on Sunday, May 24.”

Mufti Muneeb also criticised federal Minister for Science and technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhry for “interfering” in the affairs which were not directly under his mandate and also questioned his religious practices.

“We strongly condemn Fawad Chaudhry for his interference in these religious matters. Let me ask him how far he follows the religion and how many prayers he has offered,” he said.

He urged the prime minister to take notice of the federal minister’s “behaviour” and stop him from interfering in “sensitive and religious matters”. “We can’t afford non-seriousness on this subject,” he added.

Minutes after the committee chairman’s presser, Mr Chaudhry appeared on a private news channel and rejected Mufti Muneeb’s appeal to the premier, saying he had actually been mandated by Imran Khan for this job.

“I don’t think this is such a sensitive religious matter,” he said. “I have respect for Mufti Muneeb but one needs to understand that it should not be seen as a religious matter… We need to take Pakistan forward and for that we need to follow knowledge and technology, which are encouraged by our religion.”

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2020