Feature: Valentine’s day ban gets mixed response in Pakistan

by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) — Nauman Khan, 21, bought flowers for his fiancee on his way back from office and will visit her home at dinner to present flowers and chocolates as a Valentine’s Day gift.
“We got engaged last month and her parents allowed us to see each other often at their home. I will celebrate Valentine’s Day with her because I think there isn’t bad in expressing your affection for someone on the day meant for the expression of love,” Khan told Xinhua while selecting flowers at a shop in Islamabad.
Khan is one of the Pakistanis who celebrated Valentine’s Day despite a ban on it by Islamabad High Court for the second year in a row, terming it un-Islamic.
The court also directed the country’s media regulatory authority to put a check on TV channels from airing any content in this context.
Despite the ban, markets and restaurants in Islamabad were comparatively more crowded than usual and the Valentines’ Day remained the top trend at twitter the whole daylong.
Overall, Pakistanis are divided on the issue, while some say that there is nothing evil in celebrating the day, others believe that it promotes western culture so the ban has been rightly imposed on it.
Generally young and educated people from big cities celebrate it, while a majority of the population living in small towns and rural areas remains indifferent to the celebrations.
Salman Shahid, a twitter users wrote “I maybe allergic to maulvis (Muslim clerics) but I fully endorse their stance on Valentine’s Day! It’s a festival that has no grass root linkage with Pakistan and does not fit with our culture.”
Nadia Ismail, another twitter user wrote, “It is ridiculous that courts are banning celebration of love in Pakistan. It is hatred, tyranny and injustice that should be banned, not Valentines’ Day.”
The youth wing of religious political party Jamaat-i-Islami has marked the day as “Haya Day” (Chastity Day) and conducted countrywide activities and programs to promote the day in Pakistani youths.
Defending the court’s verdict, Rukhsana Hussain, a lawyer in Islamabad, said that the judges are not against the basic human feelings, but they put a check on media to stop being obsessed with the day too much.
“Pakistan is a conservative country where most of the families don’t allow their girls to mingle with boys, there are thousands of honor killings every year. Having a romantic relationship with some one out of wedlock is a taboo in Pakistan, so to avoid further complications in the society, the courts had to ban the Valentine’s Day celebrations,” Hussain told Xinhua.
Ban on the day has also affected the business of flower vendors and the stores, which were selling Valentine’s Day gifts.
Talking to Xinhua, Wajid Khan, a flower vendor in Islamabad, said that the sale of flowers was higher than normal days, but much lower than 2016, when the courts did not ban the celebration on the day.
While most of the people of the country are divided over the issue, there are some who believe that religion or culture should not be dragged into this matter, as it is associated with the personal lives of people.
“I personally did not celebrate the day, but I think it should be everyone’s own choice whether to celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, or celebrate it in whatever way they want. Government, court or media should not interfere in it,” Khalid Sohail, a university student, told Xinhua. (From xinhuanet)