Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
By Zeeshan Haider
Pakistan is battling Taliban militants, trying to patch up relations with old rival India and struggling to revive a limping economy but another issue has preoccupied the country over recent days: the sighting of the moon that markes the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
A row erupted when the Eid al Fitr holiday that follows Ramadan was celebrated in several parts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on Sunday, a day ahead of the rest of the country. Many Pakistanis say that violated a spirit of harmony and unity that should mark one of the
most important events of the Islamic calender.
Some clerics in NWFP announced on Saturday evening that the crescent moon, which marks the end of a month in Islam's lunar calender, had been sighted, meaning Ramadan was over and Eid would be celebrated the next day. But a government-appointed body of clerics responsible for
moon-sighting rejected the announcement, citing reports from the Meteorological Department that said the moon could not be seen on Saturday.
Clerics in NWFP, a religiously conservative region on the Afghan border dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, have called Eid early before but this time the politicians jumped into the fray. The Awami National Party (ANP), a secular party ruling NWFP which is also part of the federal coalition, backed the clerics from its province who called Eid early.
A little over a year ago, then-Baghdad Bureau Chief Dean Yates, my former boss, wrote an entry on this blog entitled ‘Is the war in Iraq over?’
Before he wrote it, Dean went to a famed Baghdad park to take the pulse of ordinary Iraqis, who were then cautiously venturing out to public places for the first time in years, a tentative sign that Iraq was finally emerging from height of the violence unleashed by the 2003 invasion.
When I was nine years old, I began fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It is a religious duty I love to carry out each year, to experience the sense of unity with Muslims who don’t eat or drink from dawn until sunset.
But this year the chronic shortages of electricity and water supplies that plague the Iraqi capital Baghdad — combined with Ramadan falling during a very hot summer — has forced many to abandon the fast at times.
On Saturday, Rice joined Algeria’s leaders to break the fast after sundown. Then she flew to neighboring Morocco to indulge in another Iftar, the traditional meal to end a day of fasting. The previous night, she shared Iftar with Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, eating soup and other treats.