There was a time in the nineteen fifties when everyone in the country was on the same page and date as far as Ramadan and Shawal moon sightings were concerned. Then things changed and the nation began to celebrate two Eids.

It has been for centuries that Muslims of the Sub-continent and elsewhere have followed tradition in climbing to the roof tops and searching for the faint sliver on the Western Horizon. Modern science has however made things a lot easier by predicting the lunar cycle and the faithful living abroad even have access to a lunar calendar that accurately predicts when the moon will appear.

We have a Ruet-e-Hilal Committee that is mandated to sight the Shawal moon announce Eid festivities. This announcement is based on sightings reported from various parts of the country, verified by the provincial sub committees and then sent to the Central Committee. The latter carefully examines these sightings, re-verifies them and announces its decision. I remember a time, when this announcement was made a short time after sunset, giving ample time for families to prepare themselves. Then things changed and over the years, the committee’s deliberations lengthened into interminable delays leaving the whole nation in a state of limbo.

This year, we witnessed another uncalled for drama, when the Chairman of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee lost his temper at the media coverage of reported sightings and threw a tantrum. The act was not only unbecoming, but obstructed the electronic press from carrying out their duties.

Accurate prediction of the lunar cycle and the lunar calendar could perhaps become the basis for Eid and Ramadan to be celebrated throughout the Ummah on the same dates, gelling the Muslim World together. All said and done, it was after almost fifteen years that Pakistan celebrated Eid on one day – good news indeed.

The past few days have seen news breaking events in Pakistan and abroad. First, we suffered an irreparable loss on the passing away of the great Abdul Sattar Edhi, who was laid to rest in a ceremony as befitting as any – thanks to the Pakistan Army. It was regretful that international media and the Western World did not do justice to a figure that represented all the good in, not only Pakistan, but humanity around the world.

On the political chessboard, the PM finally returned to Pakistan in style travelling with his family in a chartered PIA Boeing, while his British counterpart was reported to have taken a well-earned vacation on leaving his office travelling in a cheap airline. Our Chief of Executive landed in Lahore on the day that Abdul Sattar Edhi was interred, when he could have arranged to return in time to attend the funeral in Karachi. While the presence of the Chief Minister Punjab was a good gesture, it in no way mitigated the absence of the elder sibling.

Then came the abortive military coup in Turkey, prompting a key minister to state that the failed attempt should be a lesson (or words to that effect) for undemocratic forces. What the Minister conveniently ignored was the fact that Erdogan is a symbol of good governance in his country and therefore popular. The other half of the comparison would be better left unsaid.

That things are rapidly getting out of hand at the political government level is now becoming evident unless some courageous and pragmatic decision making is undertaken by the Centre. One of these is the continued presence of the Rangers in Karachi along with their special powers. I can only hope that when this week’s piece is printed, this would have been done. Pundits of doom, who in spite of their gloomy predictions, keep an eye on things political, expect a series of events that may occur at the end of July or in August. I am not in a position to exactly say what these events will be, but it is amply clear that correct, judicious decisions detached from any personal interest whatsoever, must be taken by the PM in consultation with all stakeholders.

A relative, who happens to be a PML N voter, reluctantly confided that reforms and accountability instituted by the PTI Government in KPK are beginning to bear fruit. This individual was recently in Bannu on a personal trip in connection with some property. He was surprised, when the ‘Patwari’ and other land revenue officials completed the job without asking for any ‘under the table money’. Their abstinence from established norms stemmed from fear of being reported and severely punished. If what my friend says is true, then it may be well for the Punjab Government to take a tip or two from those, who appear to have laid the foundations of a new Pakistan in KPK.