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Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times
Peshawar, February 15, 2014
Several students were injured in the ultra-conservative city of Peshawar in Pakistan when students belonging to right-wing parties attacked couples at campuses around the city in their drive against Valentine’s day. “We want this day to be marked as Haya (modesty) day and not Valentine’s day,” said Shazman Durrani, a member of the Islami-Jamiat-e-Talba student organisation.

The Jamiat members also engaged in running battles with students belonging to rival parties. The Jamaat-e-Islami party announced earlier this week that Valentine’s day was an “alien and un-Islamic concept that has been popularised by the country’s pro-Western media.” Leader of the party, Syed Munawwar Hasan, told journalists in Lahore that the country’s media has played a part in misguding the country’s youth. “Girls who should be hiding their beauty under a burka are exposing it for all to see,” he commented.

A rally was organized in Lahore where women wearing the burka came out on the streets to express how happy they were with this mode of dressing and how it liberated them.

Despite the best efforts of the religious parties, Valentine’s day was celebrated all over Pakistan by thousands. Popular television channels ran special shows and most restaurants and malls were decked out to attract couples and families.  However, even Valentine’s day has political undertones in Pakistan, say some.

The clash in Peshawar and also minor clashes in campuses across the country signified a much larger issue in the country. “The right wingers are trying to take over our country and we will not let that happen,” said Tariq Afghan, a local president of the nationalist Pakhtoon Students Federation.