Asia

Pakistan district bans Valentine's Day celebrations

  • 12 February 2016
  • From the section Asia
File photo: Heart shaped balloons on a street in Karachi, 14 February 2011 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Valentine's Day is popular in much of Pakistan

A district in north-western Pakistan has banned Valentine's Day celebrations.

The local government in Kohat, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has told police officers to stop shops from selling Valentine's Day cards and items.

Kohat district is run by a religious political party and borders Pakistan's conservative tribal areas.

Valentine's Day is popular in many cities in Pakistan, but religious groups have denounced it as decadent.

The Kohat district administrator Maulana Niaz Muhammad told the BBC Urdu's Azizullah Khan: "Valentine's Day has no legal grounds, and secondly it is against our religion, therefore it was banned."

While giving cards and flowers was not in itself a bad thing, linking this to a specific day was not appropriate, Mr Muhammad said. He added that he felt such practices could encourage obscene behaviour.

Image copyright Kohat District Government
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Religious groups have held protests against the day

There are about 30 shops in Kohat city selling gifts, cards and flowers for Valentine's Day, although no action appears to have been taken against them so far, our correspondent says.

Earlier this week, there were unconfirmed media reports that Valentine's Day gifts had been banned in the capital Islamabad - although this was subsequently denied by the government.

Religious groups have protested against Valentine's Day celebrations in previous years, calling it immodest.

In 2013, human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud held a campaign in support of Valentine's Day, but subsequently had to go into hiding after receiving death threats.

She was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2015.

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