Ruet-i-Hilal Committee may announce moon sighting but tech help 'essential': Fawad Chaudhry

Published April 4, 2021
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry clarified on Sunday that the announcement of moon sighting for the advent of Ramazan will be made by the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, a day after his tweet stirred another controversy among religious clerics. — AFP/ File
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry clarified on Sunday that the announcement of moon sighting for the advent of Ramazan will be made by the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, a day after his tweet stirred another controversy among religious clerics. — AFP/ File

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry clarified on Sunday that the announcement of moon sighting for the advent of Ramazan will be made by the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee under the laws of Pakistan, “but, the foundation of our future depends on science, technology and education and we must employ technological innovations for effective decision making.”

Speaking to media in Lahore, the minister reiterated that the Ramazan moon will likely be sighted on April 13 and the first day of Ramazan will be observed on April 14.

The minister's comments come a day after his tweet once again stirred a controversy as religious circles, including the newly-appointed chairman of Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, expressed their annoyance over his statement.

The committee’s chairman, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, had said that the country had faced a serious image issue due to the many announcements related to moon sighting in the past.

“This may not be a matter of Sharia disobedience but shatters the national pride when there are different dates for commencement of Ramazan and Eids in the country,” Maulana Azad had told Dawn.

He added that the state had authorised the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee to make the final announcement related to the new moon for commencement of Islamic months.

“Minister Fawad Chaudhry sahib should have waited for the meeting of the committee. Besides, a senior officer of the science ministry is a member of the committee,” Maulana Azad added.

On Sunday, Chaudhry said he had been requested by Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri that the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee be allowed to officially announce news related to the commencement of Islamic months, adding that this was also supplemented by the country’s laws.

He underlined, however, that the disconnect from science and technology in the 70s, 80s and 90s had done great damage to the country. “Imagine the quality of students we may produce if we do not even teach Darwin’s theory at schools.”

“I request the provincial governments to improve their quality of education and … focus on [subjects of] science and technology.”

He said that his ministry was setting up the first moon observatory in Islamabad and any individual, even children, could go there and observe the moon. “We are taking these measures keeping in view the needs of the future.”

‘Clear message’ from the PM

During the presser, Chaudhry said that Prime Minister Imran had given a clear message to the bureaucracy to deliver in the remaining two and a half years of the PTI government. “The elected people must also step forward and perform.” He expressed the hope that the government’s delivery mechanism would improve in its remaining term.

He also asked the opposition to shun “Imran phobia”, review its politics and take damage control measures [for their own survival].

Election reforms

Chaudhry also called upon all political stakeholder to work together on developing a mechanism for the next elections to be “free and fair”.

He recalled that the prime minister had constituted a committee to probe election rigging claims in 2018, but the opposition didn’t furnish any evidence to corroborate their charges.

He said that the opposition had later raised a hue and cry over RTS, claiming it was altered but no proof was provided to the authorities for investigation.

The minister said that the recent by-poll in Daska had resulted in a common narrative from the opposition and the government that the procedure of elections needed an overhaul. “We had a common complaint that the election procedure needs changes but as the government suggested election reforms, the opposition expressed its indifference to it.”

Chaudhry added that judicial reforms were also the need of the hour but they were only possible if the government, opposition and judiciary sat together for the cause.

Taking a jibe at the opposition, he said that the politics of Maryam Nawaz had confined the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to South Punjab.

He said Maryam Nawaz and Maulana Fazlur Rehman want the current setup to wind up as they did not have a stake in it.

To a question, he said that Punjab government was intact because it had confidence of the prime minister and that he would make a change if deemed necessary.

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