The Waxing and Waning Crescent

By Amin H. Karim 
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WAXING AND WANING CRESCENT.  The flag of the new Dominion of Pakistan in August 1947 was designed and approved in Karachi which was the capital of the country at the time. (Actually in Seafield House, Abdullah Haroon Road)
There is an interesting observation and a piece of history related to the direction the crescent and star face on the flag.  On the flag the crescent has always faced NORTH-EAST.  For most it would not make any difference and the significance of which direction it faced would not be material.  Not until someone in Pakistan first felt the urge in 1998 to bring this to the notice of the Government of Pakistan and filed a writ in High Court.  The plaintiff pleaded that the moon shown on the National Flag was WANING when in fact it should be WAXING.   They stated that the position of the moon determines the destiny of the Nation. To explain what that means here is in simple terms.  Waxing or maxing is growing with light untill the full moon is reached.  Waning is the opposite or decreasing after a full moon when the moon is illuminated on the left.  The Government response at the time was nothing short of brilliant.  The flag is visible on both sides.  The direction of the flag depends on which direction the wind is blowing. When the wind blows from right to left the crescent would appear to be waxing and if it blew from left to right it would appear to be waning,. In a fluttering flag this would change.., Not however on a fixed photo.  GOP also rejected the notion that the destiny of the nation is determined by the position of the moon. (notwithstanding the fact that the Nation had already been cut into two in 1971! )   Hence the flag stays where it is.   Note that Crescent and Star is the motif of the flag of many countries and in most the moon is waning. There are exceptions however; eg flag of Hyderabad when it was a country before 1948 and Herzogovina.  The Muslim League flag before independence (Sabz Hilali parcham) was more diplomatic and kept the crescent facing directly up; Pakistan Post Office (the best department of Government of Pakistan) was wise and printed its first regular series of postage stamps in August 1948 with the crescent facing NORTHWEST i.e. the moon waxing..  it was soon instructed to change this to North East.    Moral of the story:  it matters little compared to what Pakistan has been through and is going through.  But for a superstitious person, maybe it was a or “ill omen” and maybe if it faced the other direction and was WAXING instead of waning, it may have one day become a full moon with a prosperous and glowing Pakistan.   (Amin H. Karim MD)

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
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