Another Eid, another moon-sighting controversy and another bunch of lunatic maulvis. I refer you to my post last year on the same issue, aptly titled "The Rot That is the Ruet." But while that particular post was about the sheer idiocy of the whole moon-sighting exercise - which continues unabated - today we have sunk to even further depths.
In case you were rightly and fortunately more engrossed in the tennis, here is the situation so far:
The Central Ruet-e-Hilal (Moon Sighting) Committee, tasked with looking for the moon in the sky throughout Pakistan, announced that the new moon had not been sighted anywhere in the country. Therefore Eid would take place day after, i.e. Saturday (incidentally, on 9/11), in Pakistan. Fair enough, though Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other countries will of course be celebrating it tomorrow (Friday) 'cause their 30 rozas are already up. This was pretty much in line with what the Met Office had already predicted, that it would be almost impossible to see the very, very faint new moon anywhere in Pakistan with the naked eye, particularly with its transient 'rising' and 'setting' times, except perhaps in the far reaches of Balochistan. But since nobody sighted it in Balochistan either, it was decided that the new moon was not visible.
Popalzai Live: eagle-eyed
Enter Masjid Qasim Khan in Peshawar and its rebel mullah Shahabuddin Popalzai. Like last year, he announces two or three hours after any scientific possibility of anyone seeing the moon, that the moon has been sighted all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and therefore Eid would take place tomorrow. Also like last year, the KP senior minister
Of course this is not the first time people in KP seem to be on their own timeline. For some odd reason, the moon is far more visible in KP and Peshawar than anywhere to the west or east of them. But it doesn't end here. Baba Haider Zaman, the septuagenarian head of the Sooba Hazara Tehrik, which has been demanding that the Hazara region be separated from KP and made into a separate province, then decides to add his two bits and announces that the entire Hazara region in KP will not follow the provincial announcement and observe Eid according to the Central Ruet diktat.
So you now have one date (1st Shawwal) in all of KP tomorrow except for the Hazara region, while the rest of Pakistan will be on a different date (30th Ramzan) along with the Hazara region which incidentally is still part of KP. I was getting infuriated with the sheer lunacy of all this until it struck me that, in fact, this is a brilliant, brilliant turn of events. After all if every area, nay every mosque, can decide the date for itself, the logical progression has to be that every individual can decide the date as well. I think next year I will declare Eid whenever I think I've had enough of fasters' bad manners. It's every man (and woman) for themselves and after this precedent, who can challenge me?
On a more serious note, however, doesn't this lunacy perfectly encapsulate the total breakdown of state power and governance in Pakistan? Here we ponder how the state can extract more taxes from an intransigent elite, ensure provincial harmony or clamp down on terrorists, but really, the state cannot even find a consensus on a date.
As I said, thank God for Aisam. Maybe he should just moon these mullahs.