Avoiding love on Valentine's Day and other Pakistani stories

Published February 13, 2016
How exactly are Pakistanis supposed to 'avoid' Valentine's Day? —AP
How exactly are Pakistanis supposed to 'avoid' Valentine's Day? —AP

The caged bird was banned by the Taliban back in the day because its chirps would probably awaken life and the desire of life among men who should be only thinking of the fire of hell in the afterlife.

Now, President Mamnoon Hussain, in what can be termed a very Talibanesque move, has urged Pakistan to not celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“It should be avoided,” he said.

In Peshawar, the district council passed a resolution on Friday pressing the local government to ban the day for being anti-Sharia.

Seemingly, in retribution from the skies, an outpouring of snow capped the Margallas on Wednesday afternoon, making young and old flock to the hills, possibly hand in hand to enjoy chai and parathas, while love warmed the air.

Also read: Thorny roses on Valentine’s Day

There is no surety that this attitude against Valentine’s Day will significantly plummet the number of young Pakistani men and women celebrating Feb 14, but our government's hopes are stacked towards it.

Meanwhile, there are reports of a rising number of young fighters joining radical extremist groups such as the IS and the Pakistani Taliban. So far, there has been no day set aside to emphasise a ban on that.

According to one account of its history, Valentine's Day is said to have originated from the time a jolly old fellow called St. Valentine secretly wed soldiers who were not otherwise allowed to wed because of the idea that being married would make them bad warriors.

Thanks to its dark and pagan origins of commemorating February for the uncanny thing called love, the Jamaat-i-Islami has been more afraid of the month than it has been of dancing girls or the ouija board.

Considering it to be a direct threat to its political order, they have often come out on the streets in protest and cried out every first week of this month.

In their ideal world, love would not exist. Candies too are clearly the work of the devil and well, flowers are soul-destroying.

'War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.'

Most Pakistani governments over the years have cowed down to the Jamatis but never so absurdly before as to ban a benign a day as Valentines in a district. What’s next – Cyanide fed to birds that chirp?

And exactly how is this to be ensured?

A policing of the web for e-cards; a rounding up of those who sell flowers and heart-shaped helium balloons; a choking of romantic songs on FM radio stations; an executive order to TV shows that the only love dedications will be from sons to their mothers and vice versa?

How about focusing on governance? Improving maternal mortality; inoculating children better; improving disaster response and managing abject poverty across the country?

How about managing the perversion of love better?

The rising rate of rape cases; honour killings and acid burnings, on all these counts, we don’t do any better than the top five worst countries in the world.

Also read: The heart’s filthy lesson

There is no cure for incompetence, there is also no cure for control freak-ery; the two often dwell together uncomfortably in smaller hearts.

As for love or the expression of it, we need more of it as a nation and not less.

We are marred by way too many forced marriages and stove burnings. The only thing wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day in Pakistan is that it isn’t celebrated often enough.


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