Among the things people shouldn’t waste their time doing: fretting about festivals and celebrations that come from other cultures and therefore are not local and Authentic. That’s especially true for government officials, and even more so when their fretting intensifies into forbidding.

The president of Pakistan for instance:

Pakistan’s president has denounced St Valentine’s Day, saying the festival has no connection with Pakistani culture and should be avoided.

President Mamnoon Hussain told students that it was a Western tradition and conflicted with Muslim culture.

So what? We can learn from each other’s cultures. I find over-the-top commercial Valentine stuff rather silly, but that’s just me. Let’s have celebrations of everything. It was Darwin day yesterday; maybe today could be birdwatching day or daffodil day.

His remarks came after a district in north-western Pakistan banned Valentine’s Day celebrations.

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

Religious groups specialize in forbidding things that are completely harmless, simply because humans enjoy them. God the Massive Grouch, taking away all our ice cream.

In past years, conservative social groups, who view the day as a festival of immorality detrimental to traditional marriage, have declared the day to be “shameless”.

Renowned civil society activist Sabeen Mahmud once set up a demonstration with slogans including “Karachi says Yes to Love”. (Last April, she was killed in a drive-by shooting, although not necessarily for that particular issue.)

In neighbouring India, Valentine’s Day also garners opposition, usually from Hindu conservatives who say it is alien to Indian culture and – as argued by Pakistani Muslims – contrary to traditions such as arranged marriages.

Ah yes, well it would be, wouldn’t it – and a good thing too. Oddly enough it’s not a particularly brilliant idea to force people to live in intimate proximity for life regardless of whether or not they can stand each other. Humans aren’t machines for the production of more human machines for the production of more human machines ad infinitum. Why should we be made to live with people we don’t like and didn’t choose?

Knock yourselves out, Valentine people.

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