Mufti Qawi’s Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Membership Suspended over Qandeel Baloch Video

Posted on June 22, 2016

Ministry of Religious Affairs on Wednesday suspended Mufti Qawi’s Ruet-e-Hilal Committee membership for taking selfies with Qandeel Baloch, Express News reported.

The move comes after a video of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee member with the self proclaimed actor and singer went viral on social media. A day earlier, during a Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs JUI-F senator Hafiz Hamdullah took a jibe at the senate member over the video.

Hamdullah quipped Qandeel Baloch should be part of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee. “If we can have Mufti Qavi in the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, I think we can have Qandeel Baloch in this team as well.”

The statement came during a Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs session. The committee was left flabbergasted when told that the appointments to the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee were based on political considerations and that there was no hard and fast rule to appoint members of the committee.

“The appointments of its chairman and members should be made on merit because the issue concerns the whole nation,” Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said while chairing the meeting of the committee attended among others by Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Mohammad Yousuf.

The minister informed the meeting, which was called to discuss the working of the ‘controversial’ Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, that the 26-member Ruet body is working under the chairmanship of Mufti Munibur Rehman, who has been performing his duties since 2001.

It was the revelation that members of the body are political appointees that took the Senate panel aback, prompting its chairman to call for observing proper criteria in this regard.

Meanwhile, the religious affairs minister informed the meeting that his ministry had prepared the draft of a law to regulate the functioning of the ‘controversial’ Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.

Facebook temporarily removes Qandeel Baloch’s official fan page

The Senate panel asked the minister to expedite the process of getting the nod of the provinces so that the federal government can legislate on giving the Ruet body legal cover so that its functioning can be regulated with a view to settling the decades-old controversy over moon sighting in the country and rebuild the credibility of the decisions it makes.

The Ruet-e-Hilal Committee was established in 1974 through a parliamentary resolution and it has been working since at the central and district levels without enjoying any legal or constitutional status. It has been argued that if the moon-sighting body is given a legal status, its observations would become more forceful and carry more weight.

The minister said the federal government requires the mandate from at least two provinces under Article 141 to carry out the required legislation because the subject has been devolved to the provinces after the 18th Amendment.

The federal government cannot legislate on subjects that have been devolved to the provinces except under Article 141 that says “if two provincial assemblies pass resolutions in favour of some issue, then the federal government can take up that issue in parliament for legislation, and once it gets through both the houses of parliament its operation will be extraterritorial and for the whole or any part of the country”.

The Senate panel recommended the ministry to form a committee comprising the religious minister, state minister and two lawmakers from both the houses of parliament. The committee should talk to the four chief ministers and get the resolutions passed under Article 141, adding the briefings should take place after Eid.

The controversy over the sighting of the moon for Ramazan and Shawwal usually starts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai of Masjid Qasim Khan holds considerable weight. He often contradicts the findings of the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee. However, this year Ramazan began the same day all over.