Pakistan: Say No to Valentine's Day

It’s Valentine’s Day! As the world celebrates love with flowers, chocolate and serenades of affection for their special someones, some people gathered in protest for this special day, attacking it for its saturation with consumerism and its encouragement of inappropriate intimate behaviors.

Conservatives in Pakistan tacked up posters urging people to boycott Valentine’s Day on Thursday, saying it’s a western-inspired event that’s spreading vulgarity in their country. For them, Valentine’s Day is nothing but an occasion to encourage illicit relations between the country’s young — unmarried — males and females. It’s a sign that Western culture and values are eating away the fabric of Pakistan’s traditional, Islamic society. Valentine’s Day, they say, is not a Pakistani holiday and not part of the culture here.[1] In the northwestern city of Peshawar, a handful of people burned Valentine’s Day cards in front of television cameras on Monday. Women wearing black robes held signs denouncing the tradition.[2] The country’s broadcasting regulator PEMRA released a statement this week revealing that it has been receiving complaints that Valentine’s Day celebrations are not in conformity with Pakistan’s religious and cultural ethos. The institution has officially condemned the propagation of Valentines Day through media.[3]

Yet despite these voices of opposition, Pakistan’s youth embraced today with full force, celebrating the holiday by sending love through text messages and on social media. The perspective of the county’s younger generation is far from conservative on the matter of Valentine’s Day. TV Channels showed no response to PETA’s warning for controlled and “respectful” media content. In fact, sales for gift cards and flowers skyrocketed today in Islamabad today, demonstrating that many Pakistanis have already fully embraced Valentine’s Day.
It seems that in the age of the Internet and digital media, younger generations of the world’s more conservative parts are beginning to warm to Western consumerist customs. This may be viewed as a threat to the local traditional cultures and religions, but ultimately these people will need to adapt. Valentine’s Day is about expressing love, not necessarily sinful acts; though it may take some time for conservatives to find a way to accept this custom, hopefully one day they will.


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