President Mamnoon Hussain has urged Pakistanis not to observe Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday that hardline Muslim clerics want banned, while senior officials have issued statements and orders condemning the event.
“Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” the president told students at a gathering held to honour a nationalist leader on Friday. Hussain urged the students to focus on their studies instead.
In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa state assembly, members passed a unanimous resolution to ban Valentine Day celebrations.
“A particular segment of our society wants to impose Western values and culture on our youth by celebrating Valentine’s Day,” said the resolution, which was presented by a member of Jamaat-e-Islami, a right wing political party that is allied to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
“There is no place in our culture and in our civilisation for such an unnecessary and rude day, which aims to spread vulgarity and indecency amongst the youth,” it said.
The Jamaat-e-Islami, instead, urged Muslims to celebrate “World Haya (modesty) Day”. Osama Bin Razi, a member of the central committee of the Jamaat-e-Islami said his party wanted to mark February 14 as World Haya Day so that “due respect can be given to women instead of making them objects of desire.” Razi added that rallies will be taken out by his party supporters in which the concept of Haya will be celebrated across the country.
The Quran Academy, based in Karachi, has launched a Facebook campaign “Say no to Valentines.” Its promoters said they hope to reach a figure of one million “likes” on the social networking site by Saturday.
A conservative Urdu language newspaper ran an industry-funded advertisement which termed the day “a festival of obscenity”.
“Just ponder...tomorrow our children will start celebrating Diwali of Hindus, Christmas of Christians, and who knows what other un-Islamic festivals, so let’s kick out this festival of obscenity from our lives for the sake of Allah,” the last lines of the advertisement said.
In Attock district, which borders Punjab and KP provinces, the district administration has issued a letter in which police are instructed to arrest anyone seen to be celebrating Valentines Day.
Despite the oppositions, sales of flowers, balloons and Valentine items have reached their peak. Shopkeepers have reported record sales. TV channels will be running special shows for Valentines Day, while restaurants and hotels have are offering special discounts to guests and patrons.