The first two weeks of February are a time of great tension between two extremes, and those in between, within Pakistan. There is one extreme that believes that the month of February is the root of all evil, since it has had the misfortune of Valentine’s Day falling within it. There’s another extreme that believes that the country should attain its GDP growth targets by increasing the production and consumption of chocolates, flowers, balloons and highly overpriced Valentine’s dinners. The ones in between are those who think of Valentine’s as any other day and try convincing the flower boys at every traffic signal that the friend sitting with them in their car is not their girlfriend and that they do not wish to buy her flowers.

As the second week of February is near its end, I personally am relieved that Valentine’s Day has finally passed. Not because of the fact that I find the idea of a highly consumption oriented, materialistic approach to the expression of love repulsive, but because the invites to anti-Valentine’s events - and the so called Haya Day - simply got a bit too annoying. 

Forwarded text messages declaring that ‘haraam’ relationships can never have a ‘halaal’ ending and pictures of our favorite, Dr. Zakir Naik, claiming that celebrating Valentine ’s Day is just as sinful as wishing someone on Christmas flooded my life during the one week span prior to Valentine’s day.  I’m glad that that’s over. However, I can’t help but be sad over the fact that we as a society can go to great extents to oppose the celebration of love, yet we can’t bring ourselves to speak up against the hatred that dwells within our people against several different groups within the country.

I got invited to a very fancy event that was aimed at discouraging people from celebrating Valentine’s Day. They organizers had booked a very well known hall and had gone through the trouble of bearing the expenses of the entire event simply to discourage people from loving. It’s sad that no such events have ever been planned to discourage people from indulging in sectarian violence. Nobody has ever taken the initiative to discourage people from hating Shias because their beliefs differ from the mainstream beliefs. Nobody has ever taken the initiative to hold events that encourage people to see Ahmadis as equal citizens of the country. No, that would be wrong. It is, however, perfectly alright to discourage people from celebrating the day of love.

I’ve seen posters and have been handed pamphlets by numerous people who have hoped that a long description about how celebrating Valentine’s Day leads to a person destroying his ‘akhirah’ will dissuade me from indulging in any of the vices that day comes with, including eating out at a restaurant.  

Being a student, I know better than anyone how high printing costs can be. The money spent on these posters could have been used for a better purpose such as feeding the homeless. Of course, discouraging people from spreading love is far more important and has a much higher reward than feeding someone who hasn’t seen a decent meal in days.

It’s funny how speaking up against promoting love in our country is appreciated by many, yet when someone speaks up against killing in the name of God, they are criticized. We glorify violence and we ridicule love. What a topsy turvy society we live in!

My point isn’t to promote the materialism that accompanies Valentine’s Day. My point is to bring to light the irony that we can go to great extents to discourage people from loving, yet we cannot go an extra mile to dissuade people from spreading hate. If half the efforts that are used at promoting anti-Valentine’s sentiments were used at discouraging sectarian violence, the countless Shia bombings and Ahmadi murders would perhaps reduce in number.