Why Valentine's Day was banned in Pakistan

The cities of Peshawar and Kohat in Pakistan have officially banned Valentine’s Day, which is popular in many cities. Both cities passed a resolution condemning the celebration of a “Western tradition” that is “against Islamic values.”

Earlier this week, the local government in Kohat, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told police officers to stop shops from selling Valentine’s Day cards and items, or action will be taken against violators. Meanwhile, the Peshawar local council also banned celebrations of what it called a “useless” day that has “no place in our tradition and values.”

A vendor inflates a heart-shaped balloon in the Pakistani city of Karachi, on Feb. 10, 2016. Credit: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

A vendor inflates a heart-shaped balloon in the Pakistani city of Karachi, on Feb. 10, 2016. Credit: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

Valentine’s Day is popular in many cities in Pakistan, but religious groups have denounced it as decadent. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain has urged his nation not to observe this celebration. “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” Hussain told students at a ceremony celebrating a nationalist leader.

But this imposed ban was vulnerable to criticism. “It’s really sad to hear about the government ban on a peaceful celebration regarding Valentine’s day,” said Haseeb Khawaja, a human rights campaigner. “I just believe that it’s a symbolic day to express your love. It’s a harmless, peaceful and caring day to express your love.”

Also, Zar Gul Afridi, the chairman of a consortium of aid agencies working in the nearby Tribal Areas, said: “This is nonsense. I totally disagree to this unwise decision. These are moments of love, affection and exchange of happiness. We have seen terrorism and extremism in this country which have made our life like a hell for us.”