A meeting of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee is underway in Islamabad to sight the moon for the month of Shawwal, which would mark the beginning of Eidul Fitr celebrations in the country.
The meeting is being chaired by its chairman Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, while representatives of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Meteorological Department are also in attendance.
Separate meetings of zonal and district Ruet committees are also being held at their respective regional headquarters.
Met Office representatives said the moon was unlikely to be sighted today due to low visibility.
Meanwhile, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, who previously served as the science and technology minister, said the age of the new moon was only 13 hours and 42 minutes in Pakistan due to which it was “impossible” to sight the crescent today.
“The people who want to celebrate Eid with Saudi Arabia, it is their option but what logic would it be to conclude the holy month with a lie?” he tweeted, adding that the people supporting this view “should say plainly ‘we want to celebrate Eid with Afghanistan or Saudia.'”
Earlier, in an attempt to ensure that Eidul Fitr is celebrated the same day across the country this year, Ruet-i-Hilal Committee members had approached and tried to persuade the clerics who have publicly opposed the announcement related to Shawwal moon-sighting by the national body in the past.
“We are engaged with clerics of all schools of thought and various groups, involving them in the process,” Maulana Azad had told Dawn, recalling that the management of Peshawar’s Qasim Ali Khan mosque, where Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai heads the local unofficial moon-sighting committee, had also observed Ramazan with the rest of the nation.
“I am sure they will respect the decision of the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee over Shawwal moon too,” he added.
However, some committee members had expressed concerns over what they called the premature statements by Information Minister Chaudhry regarding the expected date of Eid.
In a tweet on Sunday, Chaudhry had said: “Although the final Eid announcement will be made by the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, according to the calendar and Ruet App developed by the [science ministry] the moon will be able to be sighted on May 13 and Eid will be on May 14 (Friday).”
Several committee members had registered concerns to the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman that such statements by the minister would only encourage clerics such as Mufti Popalzai of Peshawar to continue to undermine the authority of the committee this year too.
This year’s Eid comes as Pakistan struggles to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections, with more than 850,000 cases and 19,000 deaths declared and only a fraction of the population having been vaccinated.
With additional input by Javed Hussain in Islamabad.