Just in the nick of time, the Islamabad High Court yesterday banned all Valentine’s Day celebrations from public places. According to Dawn, Justice Shaukat Aziz has also asked the Federal Ministry of Information, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Islamabad High Commission to submit their replies regarding the execution of the Court’s orders. Pemra has also been tasked with notifying and monitoring all mediums to make sure no special Valentine’s Day promotions are sent out.
The petitioner in this case submitted that Valentine’s Day celebrations need to stopped immediately as they promote “nudity and indecency under the cover of spread of love”. The celebration of Valentine’s Day was also labelled as un-Islamic and an import of the West.
Similar bans on Valentine’s Day have been attempted unsuccessfully in the past. Several unofficial bans on celebrating the day exist in smaller towns and villages. In 2015, a top clerical body in the country issued a fatwa against the sale of condoms following reports that they were being sold along with chocolate in Valentine’s Day-related business promotions. In an article that keeps weirdly referring to Valentine’s Day as a “festival”, The Independent also reports that last year, President Mamnoon Hussain had urged Pakistanis not to celebrate Valentine’s Day as it was a Western import and had nothing to do with Pakistan’s own rich culture. He warned Pakistanis against “the downsides of western culture” that had “adversely affected one of our neighbouring countries.” Ahem.
Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, too, have banned Valentine’s Day celebrations, with Saudi Arabia even going so far as to ban the sale of any red products, creating a black market for roses, wrapping paper and “red goods” around the day.