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Pakistan is confused about Thursday Eid. And Fawad Chaudhry is at its centre

Only one politician cares about Pakistanis. And she has said no hugs and kisses, whether Eid is on Thursday or Friday.

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Is it Eid, is it not? It can be an accidental Eid, if you please. Who doesn’t like surprises? Apparently all those who expected Eid to fall on Friday. But as the moon would have it, in a late Wednesday night surprise, the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee announced that Eid will be observed all over Pakistan on Thursday.

Most upset were those who had used the milk at home to make curd — how will the meethi seviyan be made for Eid morning now? Then there were others who were still drafting chand raat text messages, only to find out that there is no chand raat anymore. But at least there was one, not two, Eids in Pakistan this time. There is a silver lining after all.

Fawad Chaudhry’s moon math

Every moon sighting has controversies galore. And where there is controversy, there is Fawad Chaudhry. This week, as Pakistan’s information and broadcasting minister, Chaudhry shared his thoughts on the age of the new moon being 13 hours and 42 minutes in Pakistan, and how it was impossible to sight it. He claimed that Eid will fall on Friday, 14 May.

Chaudhry had earlier, as minister for science and technology, worked on a calendar and a digital app that uses scientific ways for moon sighting. But his ways were hardly met with enthusiasm by the clerics running the show. Even Chaudhry’s replacement as science and technology minister, Shibli Faraz, didn’t care much about the moon business. After taking over the reins, he made it clear that his ministry has nothing to do with determining Eid and Roza dates. Like any ministry strictly does what it is supposed to do here.

Chaudhry also suggested on Wednesday that there are people who want to celebrate Eid with Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, and they should plainly confess it. “Why conclude the holy month with a lie?” he tweeted. Who are these people that the minister refers to — the ones who recently came back from a ‘successful’ visit with pockets full of rice? Or are these the people who are superstitious about Eid falling on a Friday and think it could be a bad omen for the government?

The same superstition made military ruler Ayub Khan declare Eid at Sheri time to avoid a Friday Eid because it could lead to ‘trouble’ for him.

Also read: Covid protocols up in the air in Hyderabad’s Eid markets, vendors say need to earn

No hugs or kisses, just conspiracy

The Ruet-i-Hilal’s announcement came after 11:30 pm on Wednesday — if they had waited, they would have seen the sun too. What matters is that our ruler is safe. The leaked video of a Ruet cleric allegedly saying that there are orders to declare Eid on 13 May was enough to fan the conspiracy of match-fixing. From managing election to managing our moon, they said.

It might have been a late announcement, but it is never too late for the memes. The love-hate fest between Fawad Chaudhry and Ruet-e-Hilal Committee is here to stay. If some suggested Chaudhry wanted a review on the Eid decision, there were others who were convinced that the minister would celebrate Eid in India on 14 May, because he had already given the date. However, nothing else matters when Kashmiris are celebrating with Pakistan.

In the confusion about celebrating Eid or keeping fast, there were those VIPs who were looking for sacrificial animals on Eidul Fitr that isn’t about qurbani. But we do want whatever they were smoking.

There remains only one reliable government official who cares for the people as much as she cares for herself. During this pandemic, it was only advisor to the Punjab chief minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, who said that there will be no hugs and kisses on Eid. Be it on Thursday or Friday.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

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