ISLAMABAD: Contrary to common belief that the government spends a heavy amount on sighting of moon only Rs2.6 million were spent on meetings of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee during last fiscal year.
The amount was spent on air-tickets, and hotel stay of the members who travelled from other parts of the country to Karachi for five meetings of the committee during June 2013 to June 2014.
The information was provided on the official request by a civil society activist Zahid Abdullah who moved Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) secretariat after refusal by the ministry to provide the information.
According to the ministry Rs452,259 were spent on the committee’s meeting on July 9, 2013 for sighting of Ramazal ul-Mubarak 1434 Hijri moon. The next meeting held on 8th August for the sighting of Shawwal moon cost Rs345,079 to national exchequer.
An amount of Rs628,980 was spent on committee’s meeting on October 6, 2013 for sighting Zilhaj moon. Exactly the same amount was spent on sighting of Muharram moon on 4th November 2013 while Rs508,200 were spent on Ramazan moon sighting on June 28, 2014.
Abdullah also sought information from zonal Ruet-e-Hilal committees under RTI laws of Punjab and KPK. According to information provided by zonal committees around Rs100,768 have been spent on Punjab’s committee during last one year.
When contacted, Zahid Abdullah said he wanted to know how much money is spent on moon-sighting in the country as despite expenses the controversy regarding sighting of the moon continues.
However chairman of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman said the government does not provide a signal penny as salary to any member or even the chairman of the committee.
“I do not get any kind of monetary benefits like medical, housing, official cars. The amount mentioned in official response is provided by the ministry for the travel expenses of the committee members who are not residing in Karachi and their boarding in a non-star hotel,” he said.
The religious scholar was of the view that Pakistan’s moon sighting system is best in the world as it incorporates scientific and religious methods, resulting in best outcome.
“We seek help of the scientist to ascertain the chances of sighting the moon and use this information for cross-questioning the witnesses of moon sighting so that we could check the authenticity of testimony,” he said. The chairman said media is spreading disinformation about the heavy expenses on the committee.
He said the controversy regarding moon-sighting is a result of ignorance and desire of personal projection by some elements.