A Pakistani university in Faisalabad has announced that the 14th of February will be celebrated as ‘Sisters Day’ rather than as Valentines Day.
The Faisalabad University of Agriculture has decided that with Valentine’s Day approaching fast, interventions must be made as soon as possible. It has thus announced that it will instead be celebrating ‘Sisters Day’ on 14th February.
Zafar Iqbal Randhawa, the vice chancellor of the University said, “Unlike in the West, our religious values encourage respect for women and guarantee the protection of their rights.” According to him, the intent behind this day is to create a safe environment for women to avail education.
He added, “Despite living in an Islamic society, our daughters yearn for protection.”
He also announced that women can be gifted scarves and abayas as gifts only.
Valentine’s Day is a controversial subject in Pakistan and comes every year with a great degree of a crackdown. Last year, the Islamabad High Court, which is based in Pakistan’s capital city, banned the promotion of Valentine’s Day celebrations.
Distribution services were advised to “desist from promoting Valentine’s Day”. This was a re-institution of the 2017 ban. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was also ordered to ban related promotions.
In 2016, then President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain also spoke up about how Valentine’s Day is not a part of Islamic tradition and should not be celebrated. According to the President, “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided.”
Regarding this age-old opposition to Valentine’s Day, the VC told Dawn, “My thinking is that if there is a threat, convert it into an opportunity.”
Mr. Randhawa said, “Today the era of gender empowerment is here, Western thinking is being promoted. But the best gender empowerment and division of work is in our religion and culture.”
He added, “Is there a love greater than that between brother and sister? On Sisters’ Day, it is greater than the love between husband and wife.”
Other universities in Pakistan have not yet followed suit in this reinvention of a controversial holiday.