EDITORIAL: Pakistan has no love for Valentine’s Day
South-Asian country’s banning of holiday is misguided
If you go anywhere on campus today, it is guaranteed that you will see an overabundance of heart-shaped decorations and puns regarding love. It is, in fact, Valentine’s Day. But the same cannot be said overseas in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
The Islamabad High Court released an order that bans public celebrations of Valentine’s Day. This includes a range of areas like government offices and public places, and also bans media outlets from covering any Valentine’s Day events. The High Court ruled that the festivities surrounding Valentine’s Day promoted “immorality, nudity and indecency,” and that they endorse a culture that opposes the one established by the Islamic faith, which is the majority religion of Pakistan.
This is not the first time the High Court has taken action against the international holiday. In previous years, Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic political organization and social conservative movement in Pakistan, has been known to hold rallies against Valentine’s Day — last year the group publically burned Valentine’s Day cards. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain supports this ban, claiming that the celebrations that surround the holiday are too Westernized and have no place in a country that functions primarily under the Islamic law. Tweets from Pakistani citizens echoed these thoughts as they posted that Valentine’s Day is a holiday of “vulgarity.” These are hateful words for the holiday of love.
But Pakistan’s motivation behind the ban may have some standing. Although the holiday itself began as a celebration of fertility and then eventually became associated with love in the 18th century because of Chaucer, the modern incarnation of Valentine’s Day, the holiday sometimes surrounds the idea of sex. In an ABC survey answered by more than 1,000 people, about 50 percent of men and women said they expect to have sex because it is Valentine’s Day. But that is not the only premise of the holiday.
Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday. Buying and giving gifts, going out on dates — these are all ways in which capitalism has leaked in and taken over the holiday. This may be seen as a negative holiday, but at the end of the day, to some people, Valentine’s Day is a chance where they can display their love and appreciation for people in their lives. The government of Pakistan may be against what many people expect out of Valentine’s Day, but outright banning the holiday seems a bit drastic.
One may think that no one from America should judge the cultural discussions of other countries, but the belief that celebrating Valentine’s Day equates to something immoral and disgusting is unfair, and linking their decision to Islam is not exactly appropriate.
Islam may, as many other religions, condemn the idea of premarital sex, but there is nothing in Islam that is against showing affection to your spouse and those you love. In fact, showing love and tenderness to the people in your life, especially your husband or wife, is promoted within the religion.
Those who do not enjoy Valentine’s Day should not have to celebrate it, no one should have to do something they don’t want to do. But banning a holiday that is meant to simply be a day to spread love seems outlandish, especially when there are people who enjoy the holiday. Banning the public display of Valentine’s Day will not stop people from buying each other gifts and spending a night out with their loved ones, so going the extra mile to ban this holiday gives Pakistan a not-so-loving image.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.