Valentine's Day was celebrated in Pakistan despite opposition from extremist religious groups. Young boys and girls from the bigger cities of Pakistan exchanged gifts and organized parties to mark the event.
A breath of fresh air in a country plagued by violence
For religious groups in Pakistan, Valentine's Day is immoral and has nothing to do with Islam. These groups also consider events such as Valentine's Day and the New Year to be a celebration of Western culture. For them, those who commemorate these events in Pakistan are infidels and should be punished.
Some protest Valentine's Day celebration, saying, it is a celebration of Western culture
Despite that, every year, youngsters, particularly in the big cities, defy the cultural and religious bans on Valentine's Day, and celebrate it with passion.
This year too, special events were organized to commemorate Valentine's Day in cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. People expressed their love through greeting cards and by sending flowers and cakes to their loved ones. There was so much demand for flowers that many florists raised their prices.
Valentine's Day is considered un-Islamic in Pakistan, but many still buy flowers at this time of year
Celebrations in Lahore
Lahore's Liberty Market was the center of Valentine's activities on Monday where people celebrated it by inviting their families and friends for lunch and dinner. Young people were also seen playing and dancing to popular Bollywood songs. In colleges and universities Valentine's Day was also celebrated with enthusiasm. Lahore's National College of Arts and Kinnaird College held day-long festivals to mark the day of Cupid.
A famous mall on the city's upmarket Mall Road sold Valentine's gifts at reduced prices throughout the day. On private TV channels, people were seen exchanging love messages with each other.
But there are people in Pakistan who think that Valentine's Day has no place in a country like Pakistan.
Many people in Asia have adopted Valentine's Day traditions
Sohaib, a young Pakistani in Lahore told Deutsche Welle that Valentine's Day was a Western festival and should be banned in Pakistan. "We see a lot of anti-Islamic activities in Pakistan on this particular day. Pakistanis should not imitate the West, but instead try to promote their own culture and civilization."
Sohaib also said that the affluent class of Pakistan uses an event like Valentine's Day to show-off their wealth and to indulge in immoral activities. He also lamented that people did not even care about the holy month of Rabbi-ul-Awwal, in which the Prophet of Islam was born.
"Pakistan can't remain in isolation"
On the other hand, Saima, a young girl from Lahore, told Deutsche Welle that in a life full of problems and misery, Valentine's Day was a breath of fresh air. She believes that expressing your love for someone is not a sin.
While some disagree with celebrating Valentine's Day, who could resist a chocolate-covered strawberry?
Another girl Ushaqa opined that Valentine's Day should not only be treated as a romantic event exclusive for expressing love to one's beloved. She said that Valentine's Day was a perfect occasion to express your love and affection to your parents and siblings. Ushaqa was also of the view that since the world had become a global village, Pakistan could not remain in isolation.
In a country like Pakistan, which is battling with religious extremism and which has been plagued by a violent Islamist insurgency, the desire to celebrate life and love is not gone.
Author: Tanvir Shehzad / Shamil Shams
Editor: Sarah Berning