Eid Al-Fitr to be observed across Pakistan on Sunday

People wearing facemasks shop for clothes at a market ahead of the Eid al-Fitr in Karachi on May 20, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Eid Al-Fitr to be observed across Pakistan on Sunday

  • After intense wait, science ministry, moon-sighting committee share consensus on Eid moon
  • First time Muslim world will celebrate Eid on the same day: Fawad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis will celebrate Eid Al-Fitr on Sunday, the country’s central moon-sighting committee chairman, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, announced late Saturday after an intense evening of waiting for a verdict on the date of the biggest Islamic holiday of the year. 

The Muslim majority country of 210 million people has for days been embroiled in a debate between the federal science ministry and the moon-sighting committee known as Ruet-e-Hilal, under whose purview the announcement for Eid traditionally falls. The committee meets in Karachi every year for the moon-sighting and Eid announcement.

But earlier in the day, across the length of the country in Islamabad, federal minister for science Fawad Chaudhry said Eid Al-Fitr would be celebrated in the country on Sunday according to calculations made by his ministry. 

Addressing a press conference, he said his ministry was aiming to end the conflict over moon-sighting by relying on technology.

"Islam is a religion of knowledge and intellect. Whoever says technology should not be involved in moon-sighting, we reject their view,” Chaudhry said and added it would be the first time Muslim countries all over the world celebrated Eid Al-Fitr on the same day.

Following this, Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs said the final verdict on the sighting of the Shawwal moon remained under the jurisdiction of the Ruet-e-Hilal task force, which relies on the spotting of the moon with the human eye. 

Pakistanis will celebrate a muted Eid this year amid a surge in cases and fatalities related to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a tragic plane crash that killed 97 people in its biggest city, Karachi, on Friday.


Over 40,000 Pakistani expats to benefit from extension of Saudi visas, residency permits

Updated 05 July 2020

Over 40,000 Pakistani expats to benefit from extension of Saudi visas, residency permits

  • King Salman on Sunday approved a free three-month extension of expired residency permits, and exit and reentry visas of expatriates
  • Pakistan envoy to Saudi Arabia hails ‘positive and welcoming step’ by Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: More than 40,000 Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia will benefit from the royal order to extend by three months and without charge, the validity of expired residency permits and exit and reentry visas, Pakistan’s ambassador to the Kingdom, Raja Ali Ejaz, told Arab News on Sunday.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Sunday approved the extension in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on expats working in Saudi Arabia.

Under the order, the residency permits and visas of expats inside the Kingdom of which the validity expired during the period of suspension of entry and exit from Saudi Arabia, will be extended for a period of three months free of cost. The validity of final exit visas, unused exit and return visas for expats will also be extended.

“More than 40,000 Pakistani expatriates will benefit from this facility,” Ambassador Ejaz said.

“It is a positive and welcoming step by Saudi Arabia that they have given three months’ extension in almost every relevant visa related issue for expatriates.”

He added around 15,000 Pakistani expats inside the Kingdom and over 25,000 who had traveled back to Pakistan, would be facilitated by the extension.

“There were many Pakistanis who went back on leave and could not come back after the suspension of flights due to coronavirus,” he continued. 

“When they come back here [Saudi Arabia] to rejoin their work, their visas will be valid so they will not face any trouble.”

Furthermore, Ejaz said Pakistanis whose visas had expired but they had been unable to leave due to the limited availability of flights would also be beneficiaries, as the Saudi government had extended their final exit visas as well.

The extension facility will come into place free of cost-- a source of financial relief, Ejaz said, for the majority of Pakistani workers in unskilled labor positions.

Pakistan currently has more than 2.5 million expats living in Saudi Arabia, and makes up the country’s biggest overseas community. 

According to Pakistan’s central bank data, Saudi Arabia has consistently remained for years Pakistan’s largest source of remittances.