To what end?
There is rarely a shortage of depressing events in Pakistan ranging from the surreal to downright nauseating. Given the freedom our media now enjoys these issues are covered and analysed in great detail and more often than not sensationalised to get the required ratings and viewership. International holidays like Valentine’s Day therefore offer some respite from that sort of content as channels cover the annual event in Pakistan quite extensively. Last year IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui imposed a ban on celebrating and airing any content related to the international holiday on television. It was based on a petition stating that the holiday spreads “immorality, nudity and indecency” in the country. No final verdict has been issued in this regard.
This year Pemra has upheld the same order. Does it even fall within the ambit of the IHC or Pemra to determine whether something is Islamic or un-Islamic? Do the IHC and Pemra have nothing better to do than directing their efforts towards addressing the supposed threat cupid poses to the moral fabric of society? Perhaps anchors passing off fiction as fact on prime time TV shows to defame people in order to settle personal scores is not much of a priority for Pemra – something that its code of conduct explicitly restricts. The IHC’s morality radar works fine when it comes to soft targets like Valentine’s Day but misses the plethora of reports about madrassas being infested by sexual abuse of minors.
Such holidays also provide small businesses like flower/gift shops the opportunity to earn a much needed extra buck. We are fast becoming a severely repressive society where the simple exchange of flowers, cards and gifts to show affection to a loved one is misconstrued as a depraved act not in keeping with some self-serving definition and interpretation of culture and religion the more extreme elements in our society have come up with. We are fast approaching a point where state sponsored interference with individual liberty becomes the norm and that is truly a dangerous road to be on.