Islamabad, February 14 (The Hindu): In a first of its kind verdict, the Islamabad High Court has banned Valentine’s Day events at public places and directed the media regulator to immediately stop advertisements in print and electronic media promoting the day.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said, “No event shall be held at official level and at any public place.”
The ruling came on a petition filed by one Abdul Wahid who pleaded that Valentine’s Day be declared ‘un-Islamic’.
The ruling prompted a outcry on social media. #ValentinesDay was trending on Pakistani Twitter with people largely mocking the ruling.
Former Information Minister and Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party leader Sherry Rehman tweeted “Wow. Am not a fan myself but why deny society a harmless fun-fest? It’s not like we don’t have bigger probz.”
Several twitterati spoke of the government allowing religious congregations but giving no space for love.
“We #Ban expression of #Love (in public places) but all such places are open for expression of #Hate #Violence then V complain,” said Amira.Yunis@ayunis. “Pakistan needs to be renamed as ‘Prohibistan’…”
The court accepted the petition and ordered the administration to take action to stop the celebration of Valentine’s Day in the country “with immediate effect.” It nominated Ministry of Information, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), and Chief Commissioner Islamabad to ensure that ban was carried out in letter and spirit.
Apart from the government, the print and electronic media have also been warned to stop all Valentine’s Day promotions immediately.
Valentine’s Day has been controversial in Pakistan and every year, zealots of religious parties try to terrorize the youngsters celebrating the day.
But it is for the first time that a High Court has banned the celebrations.
Only a small minority in the conservative country openly observe the day and that too in the big cities.
Last year, President Mamnoon Hussain had also urged the nation not to celebrate Valentine’s Day and has said that it has no connection with the country’s culture and should be avoided.
He had urged the people to maintain Pakistan’s religious and national identity.
The Valentine’s Day activities have often been disrupted in the past in the Muslim-majority country by the supporters of hard-line parties like Jamaat-e-Islami.
(The featured image at the top shows Pakistani young men demonstrating against the observance of Valentine’s Day)