The axe on the poor

This refers to the editorial, ‘Falling rupee’ (May 18). All that we have learnt in the past nine months is that PM Imran Khan and his people do not know anything about economics and governance.
He should have known that devaluation only increases the cost of imports and does not result in increased exports. The prices of petrol, gas, electricity and essential items are bound to go through the roof. Of course, Imran Khan and his ministers will not be affected, as they are among the elite. It’s the middle class and the poor who will be most affected.
Shakir Lakhani
Karachi
The News, May 20, 2019



Blanket amnesty
The Naya Pakistan Government has announced an amnesty scheme to help tax evaders and other white-collar criminals to legalize their illicit income by paying a mere four percent. This will make law-abiding honest taxpayers wonder why they obeyed the law and paid due taxes at the rate of up to 30 percent all these years.
I suggest that a blanket amnesty should be announced for all other criminals as well. The government should immediately pardon all murderers, etc immediately. If nothing else, this measure will save much money being spent on those who are living in our jails at public expense.
Shakir Lakhani
Karachi
The News, May 18, 2019

The IMF appears to have imposed conditions on Pakistan which really cannot help its economy improve. For one thing, the IMF wants Pakistan to raise fuel and gas prices to very high levels, as well as devaluing the rupee against the dollar. Even though the rupee has lost more than forty percent of its value in the past nine months, exports have not increased. Moreover, a weak rupee means the government will have to pay more for dollars to repay the IMF loan. Imports will become prohibitively expensive. Most middle class families will sink into poverty, and people may come out on the streets demanding the ouster of the selected prime minister (Imran Khan). That moron deserves to be kicked out for inflicting so much damage to the country.

Today the dollar reached the unprecedented level of Rs. 151, the stock market crashed again and there is absolute despair among traders and businessmen. So what does the IMF gain from all this? 

I have a strong suspicion that the U.S. and India want a very weak Pakistan, which will have no clout in the world. Maulana Fazlur Rahman used to call Imran Khan an agent of the Jews. He may well have been right. The future is very bleak, I hope we don't see Pakistan being dismembered again. Unfortunately, those who call the shots in Pakistan (the de facto rulers) don't see the writing on the wall, because most of them have forgotten what happened in 1971. 





Using science and technology for moon-sighting


Shakir Lakhani
 


It was one of those rare occasions when we actually heard someone in this government talk sense. The minister for science and technology pleaded that we should not depend on clerics to determine whether the moon has been sighted or not. There is no need, he said, to waste so much money on transporting scholars to one place and paying for their accommodation and food (Rs 4 million every time they meet) when astronomical science can help us do the job. The minister said he had formed a committee to prepare an ‘Islamic’ calendar that would make the Ruet-e-Hilal committee redundant. I heartily agreed.
Controversies about moon sighting have plagued the country for many years. Before independence, and even in the early years of the country’s existence, it was common for people to celebrate Eids on different days. The decision belonged to local committees. As early as 1958, residents of Peshawar and adjoining areas were known to celebrate Eid a day earlier than most parts of the country. In 1961, people of Karachi had two Eids as some religious parties did not agree with the government’s announcement on moon-sighting.
The confusion persisted until 1974 until the Bhutto government formed the Ruet-e-Hilal committee to announce the start of every Islamic month.
For several years now there has been much controversy over moon sighting due to announcements made by the private committee of Mufti Popalzai of Peshawar. This year again, Mufti Popalzai found 22 men who said they had seen the Ramazan moon, again a day earlier than those living in the rest of the country.
Before proceeding further, I have a simple suggestion to resolve the problem. Fawad Chaudhry should form a committee to examine the said 22 witnesses closely. I doubt if some of them would be able to see even a full moon on a clear night. Also, next time, the government should have its own people at Masjid Qasim, headquarters of Mufti Popalzai, to question the witnesses, if any.
As for the followers of Mufti Popalzai, have they never wondered why the moon-sighting announcement by Popalzai is always done so late, usually after the moon has been sighted in Saudi Arabia? By the way, does Popalzai arrange to see the new moon every month? If so, did the month of Shahban, according to his committee, also begin a day earlier in Peshawar than in the rest of the country? All these aspects will have to be examined before this issue is resolved. After all, when science predicted that the moon would be sighted, even in KP, on Monday, why did 22 men see it a day earlier?
Back to the committee for making an Islamic calendar, which is expected to be completed in a few days from now, there is already such a calendar in existence for a thousand years known as the Egyptian Calendar. But it is meant for Egypt and surrounding countries including Saudi Arabia. Some communities like the Bohras have been using it for centuries. It is very easy to prepare such a calendar for Pakistan. Since six lunar months are of 29 days and six of 30 days it can be predicted with great confidence that this year Eid-ul-Fitr will fall on June 5, Eid-al-Azha on August 12 and Ashura on September 11. Anyone can make these calculations on a spreadsheet in a few minutes.
The writer is a freelancer