Valentine's Day under fire in Pakistan

Valentine's Day celebrations were slammed by authorities in Pakistan, where officials said the practice was not compatible with the country's Islamic values.

The celebration of romantic love on February 14 was an "anti-Islamic tradition," President Mamnoon Hussain said late Friday.

"We should avoid the Valentine Day celebrations because it is Western," said the president, who holds the largely ceremonial role of head of state.

The imported custom often involves the gifting of flowers, cards and chocolates by younger, sometimes unmarried couples.

Such activities could lead to the degradation of Pakistan's culture, the president warned a gathering of female students, according to the account by his spokesman Farooq Adil on Saturday.

His comments came amid reports of bans on the sale of items marking the occasion this weekend.

The Interior Ministry denied that the restriction was imposed in Islamabad. “There is not truth in these reports. We cannot even think of such a ban in the capital,” spokesman Sarfaraz Hussain said.

A local authority did prohibit the sale of cards, flowers and other paraphernalia marking the day of love in Kohat district, around 200 kilometres west of Islamabad, Dawn Newspaper reported Friday.

"Valentine’s Day has become a common and unnecessary part of our culture,” said the nazim, or local council chairman, who issued the notification.

“There is no need to designate a special day where people give cards, chocolates and gifts to each other," nazim Maulana Niaz Mohammad was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

Local police were to inspect markets and make sure retailers were not selling such items, which were in breach of shariah Islamic law, the Dawn report cited the nazim as saying.

But another report said the district's police were not intending to enforce the ban.

“The order has been discarded as it is illegal and violates basic human rights," the Express Tribune quoted a high-ranking police official as saying on condition of anonymity.

The Constitution does not prohibit citizens from celebrating Valentine’s Day, he was quoted as saying.

Around 40 kilometres further north in Peshawar, local authorities also passed a resolution against Valentine's day, but a police spokesman said no instructions had been given to enforce a ban on celebrations, Dawn reported.

In past years, religious hardliners have disrupted gatherings of youth celebrating Valentine's Day in the country.

Last update: Sat, 13/02/2016 - 12:37

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