The Lunar Problem


Call it whatever you want, but please think twice before bringing the crumpled national cohesion flag out of the buzzword cabinet. Because the latest bid to put an end to the age-old contentious lunar controversy through a parliamentary bill gives a whiff of appeasing the religious right. Had the ruling PTI stayed true to its resolve to let science overrun the ping-pong match between the maulanas, it should have dedicated the bill to mainstreaming an already convoluted procedure. This strange inclination towards criminalising false reports would help establish the national department’s writ over private committee; deemed a “great danger.”
Pakistan’s fixation with religious festivals coinciding with the Saudi Arabian calendar often lands in a sticky pitch where frenzied delays and a history littered with speculations of foul play have been known instances for far too long. Remember when Mufti Zafar was caught lamenting about the committee faking a moon sighting (all in the name of national unity, of course) on camera? Despite commendable initiatives like the country’s first moonsighting website as well as a mobile application, which were colourfully punctuated with brutal jibes on social media, former minister Fawad Chaudhry could do little to change the status quo. Our dear neighbour is making headlines over plans to send out a mission to the moon while we are trading barbs over the best possible manner to record whether the moon was sighted. Tragically ironic or an ironic tragedy?
Sitting oceans away in Maryland, a Pakistani-origin surgeon became the talk of the town for his first-of-its-kind cardiac transplant. Even though his countrymen on Twitter were quick to share in his glory by pointing out the Dow link, they should have taken this opportunity for a search within. Could this same doctor have “made history” using a genetically-altered animal while living in Pakistan? The very name would have caused an incredible furore from the same lobby that loves throwing in the religion card to every question. Our men and women have repeatedly shown that they are just as armed to lead the scientific revolution but would their state ever take the great leap? A solid standing-point could be doing away with the redundancy of committees upon committees to seek a solution that is already readily available. After all, if the Big Brothers of the Islamic world can embrace technology (holding on to ceremonial traditions), surely, a little change in this part of the world is not too much to ask for.