For many years now, Pakistanis have celebrated the two annual Eids on different days. About sixty years ago, more than half the people of Karachi (including my family) refused to celebrate Eid after the 29th day of Ramazan as we knew that the moon wouldn't be sighted on the 29th day (the previous two lunar months had also been of 29 days). That was when Ayub Khan constituted the Ruet-e-Hilal committee to decide the day on which Eid should be celebrated.

But in Peshawer, a certain Mullah Popalzai, has been putting a spanner in the works every year by assembling a few people who swear that they've seen the moon (when it couldn't have been there). So, most people in the northern areas break their fasts a day earlier than those in the rest of the country (and often, like this year, before the Muslims of India and Bangladesh). There are a couple of reasons why Popalzai does this. Some say he wants the province of KP to be part of Afghanistan (where the moon is sighted a day earlier, due to its latitude). According to others, he wants Eid to be celebrated on the day the Saudis do (as the moon is always seen a day earlier in Saudi skies). This year another mullah in KP went a step earlier and announced the sighting of the moon on the twenty eighth day of Ramazan. He apparently thought that since it was the 29th of Ramazan in Saudi Arabia on that day, and the moon would definitely be sighted there, he went ahead and made his announcement two hours before the Saudis said they hadn't seen the moon and the next day would  be the thirtieth of Ramazan (instead of Eid). 

This year there was more confusion. For years superstitious Pakistanis have believed that if Eid falls on a Friday, something terrible will happen in the country that year. Perhaps it was because in the years that Eid fell on Fridays, the first prime minister was killed, the government of Nawaz Sharif had been overthrown and even Zia's plane had crashed, not to mention the many floods and earthquakes that have struck the country.

So this year, when it took five hours for the Ruet-e-Hilal committee to declare that the moon had been seen on the 29th day by a very few people and that Eid would be celebrated the next day (Thursday), people naturally suspected that the sighting had been "arranged" by Her Holiness Madam Pinky (who, as we know, is terribly superstitious and believes in the supernatural). Apparently she believed that if Eid was observed on Friday, her husband (Imran Khan) would soon be sent home by those who made him the prime minister. I have heard this from many people and it could well be true. 


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