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Valentine’s Day blackout imposed on Pakistan media

Islamabad High Court verdict last year banned celebration of Valentine’s Day in public spaces and government offices

Image Credit: Reuters
Shopkeepers inflate heart-shaped balloons ahead of Valentine’s day in Peshawar Wednesday. Valentine’s Day is big for businesses in Pakistan.
Gulf News

Islamabad: Pakistan’s media regulatory authority has restricted all electronic and print media from “promoting” any content related to Valentine’s Day.

In a notification to broadcasters and publishers, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) reminded the TV channels, FM radios and cable operators that they are banned from covering Valentine’s Day.

The PEMRA notification has been issued in compliance with a directive by the Islamabad High Court last year. The Islamabad High Court (IHC), in a verdict passed on February 13, 2017, banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day in public spaces and government offices across the country.

On February 7, 2018, PEMRA reprinted the court order on the notification which reads: “In the meanwhile, respondents are directed to ensure that nothing about the celebrations of Valentine’s Day and its promotion is spread on the electronic and print media. No event shall be held at official level and at any public place. Chairman PEMRA is directed to ensure that all the TV channels shall stop the promotion of Valentine’s Day, forthwith.”

The directive to ban Valentine’s Day celebrations in the media was issued by the Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC on February 13 last year.

The ban followed a petition by a citizen Abdul Waheed who contended that promotion Valentine’s Day on mainstream and social media was against Islamic teachings and should be banned immediately.

In 2016, President Mamnoon Hussain also urged Pakistanis to forego celebrating Valentine’s Day as it was not a part of Muslim tradition. “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” President Mamnoon said at that time.

Reaction on ban

The move however has disappointed the youth and business outlets as the events such as Valentine’s Day and Black Friday have gained a foothold in Pakistan in recent years.

“Valentine’s Day is big for businesses whether you’re a florist or cafe owner, the festival is a great way for small businesses to boost sales and bring new customers. Sadly, the ban in Pakistan is really disappointing for the business community,” said Fahad Khan, a local cafe manager, talking to Gulf News.

However, some local critics support the ban saying it is a decadent Western invention. “Valentine’s Day is not part of Muslim tradition which is why I support the court ban. Media should promote our local traditions and culture” said Hafza Ahmed, a teacher in Islamabad.

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