It is that
time of the year when anything but love is allowed in the air of Pakistan. The
dangerous Valentine’s Day is upon us. The day that will destroy our future
generations, take us away from our cultural and religious tenets. Truth be
told, the damage caused by 14 February to the ideology of Pakistan is greater
than any existential threat the country has ever faced.
University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, celebrated Sisters’ Day on
Valentine's Day last year | Photo: University of Agriculture Faisalabad
So, let the
annual Valentine denouncing begin: It is Haya (shame or honour) Day, no it is
Sisters’ Day. How about it being a Black Day? It is anything but Valentine’s
Day. Can we at least agree that it is a day? This day is a western sazish
(conspiracy) against our ancient tradition of celebrating birthdays. The infidel
west is conspiring against us to take away the sharam (shame) and haya
(decency) of our women. Brace yourself with this and much more this Valentine’s
years, red roses, red balloons and stuffed toys have become a symbol of defiance
in Pakistan. The bans, protests and court orders against celebrating
Valentine’s Day by cultural thekedars has only caused unwarranted turmoil, with
religious and political sections of the society using it to their benefit.
Jamaat-e-Islami being the frontrunner with its Haya Day. Then there are those
progressive types who fight back and denounce the anti-Valentine propaganda.
rights activist Sabeen Mahmud in 2013 came out in support of Valentine’s Day,
with one of the posters that said “Pyaar hone dein” or let there be love, in
clear defiance of the religious Right, which was stopping people from any such
celebration. She received threats and had to go into hiding. Two years later,
Sabeen Mahmud was murdered. Her killer Saad Aziz said in his confession that he
shot Sabeen for holding a un-Islamic Valentine’s Day rally.
government of Pakistan has played an active role in the weaponisation of
Valentine’s Day. In 2016, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, who hardly spoke
on any serious issue during his stay in office, got on the anti-Valentine
bandwagon and urged the youngsters to not celebrate Valentine’s Day calling it
a part of the western culture, and not of the Muslim tradition. He asked the
students to maintain their religious and national identity. Same year, Chaudhry
Nisar, the interior minister in Pakistan Muslim League (N) government banned
all kinds of Valentine’s Day celebrations in Islamabad. Why should have the
Sindh government stayed behind? It banned swimming at Seaview beach in Karachi
on Valentine’s Day. We don’t know if there was any forecast about couples going
out for swimming.
the Islamabad High Court banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day. Justice
Shaukat Siddiqui prohibited any festivity in public spaces and government
offices across the country. He also directed the media to not air any love — as
“coverage (by media) of the spread of love was (promoting) immorality, nudity
and indecency, which goes against our rich culture.” Asma Jahangir criticized
the judgement saying it wasn’t based on any law and that Siddiqui wasn’t fit to
be a judge, rather he should have become a Khatib at a local mosque. Again, in
2018, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority reminded the
television channels to not promote the Valentine’s Day.
Hussain Rizvi, leader of a far-Right religious party Tehrik-e-Labbaik, has
expressed his disdain over boys giving red roses to girls: Phool Dene Wale
Pe Bhi Lanaat Aur Phool Lene Wale Pe Bhi Lanaat. There you have your
Valentine’s Day decree.
the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad celebrated Sisters’ Day on 14
February. In a rather idiotic ceremony at its campus, the chancellor of the
university distributed 800 headscarves or abayas to female students as a
“gesture of respect” and not loves. Though it should well have been called
Daughters’ Day as the chancellor was giving away tokens of honour to young
girls, who could well be his daughters, and not sisters.
between a man and a woman does exist. Celebrating Sisters’ Day doesn’t mean
these relationships don’t exist. Yes, Pakistan is awkward when it comes to love
and asking for a day to celebrate love is a bit too much. Those who vehemently
oppose the idea forget that Pakistan is no island. It will get influenced by
the happenings in the rest of the world. Those who want to celebrate
Valentine’s Day will go ahead without anyone’s approval. But those who don’t
want to be part of it have no business of imposing their views on others. Valentinegardi
is still better than Dashatgardi.
Inayat is a
freelance journalist from Pakistan.
Headline: Damage caused by Valentine’s Day to Pakistani ideology is bigger than
any existential threat
Source: The Print