The Ruet-i-Hilal Committee announced Thursday that Ramazan's moon had not been seen. The holy month will begin in Pakistan on Saturday.
The committee held its meeting today under the chairmanship of Mufti Muneebur Rehman, while meetings of other zonal and district committees were also organized simultaneously.
However, the Ramazan crescent was seen in Saudi Arabia, where the fasting month will begin on Friday, Arab news reported. It was also sighted in the United Arab Emirates, according to The National daily.
This year, the holy month will be observed amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has stopped most countries. Pakistan is also struggling to meet the challenge by trying to ensure social distancing to curb the spread of the virus while allowing commercial activities and religious congregations to continue.
In making the announcement at a press conference in Karachi, Rehman said it was mandatory for all imams and mosque administrations to ensure that the government-announced 20-point standard operating procedures (SOPs) are followed for congregational prayers at mosques.
He said that mosque officials should guarantee measures of social distancing and disinfection, and asked the elderly, children and sick people not to visit the mosques.
Rehman noted that the government had reserved the right to close mosques that do not follow agreed SOPs.
He also said that people will not be allowed to hold iftars in mosques this Ramazan.
A day earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, today ruled out the possibility of seeing the moon in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying that it will not be possible to see the moon during sunset with telescopes.
He had confirmed this based on a computer generated image showing the exact position of the moon.
The image was generated by the Pakistan Higher Atmosphere and Space Research Commission (Suparco).
"On April 23, the moon will only be 2 degrees above the horizon at sunset; It is impossible to see the moon during sunset with telescopes. Therefore, if someone who lives in Pakistan wants to fast with people in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, it is up to them, "he said.
The ministry had previously stated that the Ramazan moon would be seen across the country on April 24 and the month of Ramazan will start on April 25.
Chaudhry had also announced that, for the first time in the country's history, the science ministry had received representation on the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.