Prime Minister condemns annual ‘day of love’
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mamnoon Hussain seems to have avoided cupid’s arrow this Valentine’s Day, opting instead to snap the metaphorical bow and denounce the occasion.
Describing the holiday as a Western tradition which conflicted with Muslim culture, his remarks came after an entire district in north-western Pakistan banned Valentine’s celebrations.
Speaking on Friday, he said: “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture,” before adding: “[young people should] always maintain their religious and national identity.”
Despite the annual holiday remaining popular in many cities and areas across Pakistan, some local councils have taken the decision in recent times to ban any celebrations.
For example, the local government in Kohat, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told police officers to prevent the sale of Valentine’s Day cards and gifts in the region in build up to the loved-up date.
Peshawar’s local council also passed a resolution to ban celebrations of what it described as a ‘useless’ day.
Kohat district administrator, Maulana Niaz Muhammad, told BBC Urdu: “Valentine’s Day has no legal grounds, and secondly it is against our religion, therefore it was banned.”
Although the giving and receiving of cards and gifts is not seen as ‘forbidden’ in Pakistan, the idea of only practicing such an act on just one day a year is frowned upon.
Last year, a well known civil society activist, Sabeen Mahmud, was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Although the reason for her death remains unclear, she had previously set up a demonstration to promote Valentine’s Day with slogans including ‘Karachi says yes to love’.
Across the border in India, celebrations on 14th February are also often met with criticism.
Many Hindu conservatives have argued that the date has no significance to Indian culture, in comparison to traditions such as arranged marriages.