" The two other spots will be filled by a qualifying round. "
Couples in Pakistan have been urged by some officials not to observe Valentine’s Day. Authorities say the traditional celebration of romantic love could degrade Pakistani culture.
Valentinstag Pakistan Islamabad
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain was among the officials to criticize Valentine’s Day, saying it constituted an “anti-Islamic tradition.”
“We should avoid the Valentine’s Day celebrations because it is Western,” the president said in a speech to a crowd of students, adding that the imported custom could undermine the country’s culture.
Hussain, who holds the largely ceremonial role of head of state, urged the students to concentrate on their studies instead.
Many couples in the country, most of them young and some unmarried, have embraced Valentine traditions common in the West, such as giving presents of flowers, cards and chocolates to loved ones. Flower vendors have reported booming sales again this year.
However, the interior ministry denied reports that Valentine’s celebrations had been banned in the capital, Islamabad.
“There is not truth in these reports. We cannot even think of such a ban in the capital,” said spokesman Sarfaraz Hussain.
Authorities elsewhere in the country did, however, prohibit the sale of items marking the day of love.
In Kohat district, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Islamabad, a local council chairman, or nazim, said the tradition was “unnecessary” in Pakistani culture.
“There is no need to designate a special day where people give cards, chocolates and gifts to each other,” Maulana Niaz Mohammad was quoted by the “Express Tribune” as saying.
Valentinstag Pakistan Lahore
Most Pakistanis seem unfazed by official admonitions
Another newspaper, “Dawn,” cited the nazim as saying that police in the district had been charged with inspecting markets to make sure no one had Valentine’s items for sale. However, a report in the “Express Tribune” reported that police were not planning to enforce the ban.