The Islamabad High Court has barred the celebration of Valentine’s Day in government offices and public spaces across the country.
The court has also issued directives for print and electronic media to “stop all Valentine’s Day promotions immediately.”
A petitioner named Abdul Waheed had moved the court to ban celebration of the international event across public spaces. In the petition, Waheed said that Valentine’s Day promotions on social media and electronic media were against the teachings and injunctions of Islam. Hence, these should be banned by the courts immediately.
The ban applies only to Pakistan’s capital as the Islamabad high court has no jurisdiction beyond the city.
Later on Monday, the government issued an order to local police to enforce the court ban. A similar order was in place last year in Islamabad.
Valentine’s Day has always generated a mixed response in Pakistan. While some people have objected to the Western tradition and denounced its celebration in Pakistan, others have taken a liking to the festivities that originate as a result of the day. Celebrated on 14 February around the world, bakeries, restaurants, clothing outlets and other businesses make use of Valentine’s Day to boost sales.
Islamic parties in Pakistan view Valentine’s Day as vulgar Western import. However, the annual homage to romance on Feb. 14 has become popular in recent years across the Middle East and also in Pakistan.
Though some Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia also have sought to stamp out Valentine’s Day, with the religious police mobilising ahead of Feb. 14 and descending on gift and flower shops to confiscate all red items, including flowers, it is still celebrated widely in other places such as Dubai.