A Pakistani vendor prepares heart-shaped balloons for sale ahead of Valentine's day in Karachi. -AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's media regulator on Wednesday asked television and radio stations to avoid offending religious sentiments and corrupting the nation's youth in their Valentine's Day broadcasts.

While stopping short of an outright ban, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulator Authority (Pemra) circulated a letter saying it was acting on complaints that celebrating the day was not in line with “our religious and cultural ethos”.

“Such events have been perceived as a source of depraving, corrupting and injuring the morality of Pakistani youth as well as violating Code of Conduct developed by Pemra,” the watchdog's letter said.

“All satellite TV channels/FM stations are, therefore requested to honour viewer's sentiments/opinion while conceptualising any programme or celebrating any event connected to The Valentine's Day,” it added.

Valentine's Day is increasingly popular among younger Pakistanis, many of whom have taken up the custom of giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts to celebrate the occasion.

But Pakistan remains a deeply traditional Muslim society where many disapprove of Valentine's Day as a Western import.

A Pemra official told AFP that the regulator had not banned Valentine's Day programme broadcast, but instead issued a request to channels in the wake of public complaints.

Supporters of Pakistan's main religious party staged a noisy protest against Valentine's Day on Tuesday in the northwestern city of Peshawar, denouncing it as un-Islamic and calling for a “day of modesty” instead.

The student wing of Jamaat-i-Islami rallied outside the Peshawar press club chanting slogans against Valentine's Day, saying it had “spread immodesty in the world”.

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