Happy Valentine’s Day, Peshawar, Pakistan

Posted on February 14, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Photo of the Day, Society
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Adil Najam

Valentine Pakistan Muslim

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This rather striking picture, taken by Associated Press in Peshawar Pakistan is remarkable just for it captivating composition. But I have no doubt that our readers will not disappoint in making more of this than probably needs to be made!

46 Comments on “Happy Valentine’s Day, Peshawar, Pakistan”

  1. AAA says:
    February 14th, 2008 12:34 am

    Wow, that is a very nice picture… I guess taken from behind one card through the heart shape

  2. aijaz says:
    February 14th, 2008 1:22 am

    it looks, AP took the picture without informing the lady *-)
    can it be the case?

  3. temporal says:
    February 14th, 2008 1:30 am

    good pic adil:)

    I too have a valentine day card. It is full of declarations of love and admiration and duas for the recipient’s welfare. If you can help me find the name and address for the recipient I’d be grateful.

    The recipient would be the one person that can do the following:

    * create respect and tolerance amongst all provinces
    * restore law and order for the poor
    * eliminate suicide bombings
    * curb violent extremists (jaw-jaw ok: thaw-thaw not ok)
    * can communicate effectively in under ten minutes
    * who is not vindictive
    * whose wealth is open to public scrutiny
    * believes in ruling with consensus
    * genuinely endorses Quaid e Azam’s Aug 11, 1947 speech

    If you know the person, please let me know here

  4. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    February 14th, 2008 3:07 am

    Adil Najam,

    Commentators ! ! wake up

    @ Like last year, I insist that this nonesensecal religiously
    misplaced western fanatical and ‘cheap’ love market’
    valued, stock market item must be abandoned, started
    with God damned Geo TV,
    Freedom of Expression does not at all mean conditionning
    and brainwashing with these secular “imbeciltities”.
    This is called pollution of minds.


    L O V E . ???

    Can some one inform about ” Dullan Bhatti ” legend !
    please !!!

  5. Mohammad Ishaq says:
    February 14th, 2008 4:18 am

    God bless her…. she is looking a nice lady n the guy who took the pic is f______r samajh lo. If this would have been your sister then? she might be sumone’s sister, no one have right to expose anyone like this…

  6. iceCube says:
    February 14th, 2008 5:35 am

    Well, Mohammad Ishaq. What if the photographer was a girl herself?!!

  7. February 14th, 2008 5:38 am

    Happy V alentines Day Pakistan

  8. Franz says:
    February 14th, 2008 6:02 am

    Prof Najam,
    I was at the Amritsar border ceremony last weekend as a spectator from the Indian side, and I can say that the Pakistan side got the better show.. Much more flare, and a more organized fan section.

    Happy Valentines

  9. February 14th, 2008 8:32 am

    Valentine meri patt, rakh’iyo balaa Jhoolay laalaNR
    Europe daa
    omaaN daa
    saKhi dildaar Qalandar..
    damaa-dam mast Qalandar!

  10. February 14th, 2008 8:33 am

    omaaN = RomaaN (Rome)

  11. Tina says:
    February 14th, 2008 9:17 am

    M. Ishaq–

    are you a member of one of those stone-age tribes who thinks that taking a picture is stealing someone’s soul?

    Or just one of those people who wants to live in the last century where everything to do with women has to stay in the haram?

    Just because the lady is not looking at the camera does not mean she was not consulted. However, even if she was not, there are much much bigger sins against women in Pakistan to get excited about. Where is your outrage when that “nice lady, maybe someone’s sister” is eve-chased or teased in the streets?

    If she is shopping in such a store, maybe buying a Valentine for a loved one (a Western holiday) with her dupatta down and her hair showing, she is probably okay with having her photo looked at (I’m speculating, but well).

    She is probably less okay with being terrorized in the street if she dares appear dressed like that and alone, but that’s her life as a Pakistani girl.

    Yes, she might be your sister. Are you going to be excited by her lack of educational opportunities, her vulnerablity in Pakistani society, the level of violence she is likely to face in her life…any of it?

    No. You are going to get upset over a picture.

    You know, maybe if you had to look at a lot of pictures of women, see a lot of women, and live and work with them, you would grow up.

    This attitude is part of the problem. Also I would find it hard to believe an AP photographer who took the trouble to frame the photo and set it up through a heart-shaped aperture would be able to get a shopper centered in it completely unaware. Maybe, but not likely? Also this is being used as a news photo, not a sexy pin-up.

    So I think we can conclude this is not the work of some sick voyeur, so Ishaq’s objection becomes–well, kind of grotesque. By extension all news photographs, or even all photographs, featuring women are exploitative and bad. Of course there are plenty of Muslims who do think this. Those who think so do not have a normal psychology towards women, and that’s very sad.

  12. February 14th, 2008 10:26 am

    Well, Adil, you should be happy. Your readers did NOT disappoint you:

    M. Ishaq remembered to bring up the issue of mothers and sisters…all because of a simple photo.

  13. Shabbir says:
    February 14th, 2008 11:44 am

    First: I like the photo and this is the reason why I really like your website, you dared your audience to find the most sensitive aspect of this photograph and your audience gladly responded with passion. Mohammad Ishaq blindly started the mullah bantor and then the counter argument and so on…….
    Second: Amazing that a simple greeting card can generate a debate and the deep divide between mullahs and liberals becomes very apparent.

  14. Aamer says:
    February 14th, 2008 12:21 pm

    i am NOT endorsing anyone’s comment here, but.
    i think that taking anyone’s picture (even in the western world ) is not allowed. Unless it is taken as part of a broader background which certainly was not the case here, so you could have interpreted M. Ishaq’s comments that way. (again, i am not saying she was/was not consulted).
    I like the criteria you list for a ‘perfect leader’ i don’t see anyone with those qualities, to represent our country in the near future. So keep your card in a safe place until then

  15. Shabbir says:
    February 14th, 2008 12:37 pm

    In response to Aamer: Every country have their own publishing and copyright laws. As far as internet publishing especially blogs, do they have to comply with getting permission from the person/s before publishing the photo is an interesting topic on it own, and I wonder what is ATP’s policy as far as copyright/publishing.
    But come on lets cut the chase, the real controversy here is whether M. Ishaq’s islam is in danger just because a woman’s photo is published in the context of a .Valentine Card’?

  16. aijaz says:
    February 14th, 2008 12:51 pm

    guys, I suspected AP of publishing without permission because I have a feeling that it is not very good. I am afraid if they do the same with me and take a picture while I am doing something stupid (yes, I do some stuff that I dont want someone to put on web) then it will be very disturbing for me.
    Being aware of our social norms I can easily speculate that if this lady was consulted of this, she would have had refused to be published.
    If you google a bit, you would know there are suggestions against publishing your pictures at public places.
    My question is did Adil do a right thing by reproducing APs thing here? Probably yes?

  17. Moiz says:
    February 14th, 2008 12:59 pm

    I wonder isn’t everyone who commented here as enthusiastic as everyone else in thinking that their particular point of view is the only valid point of view and the rest is all foam on the surface or even less.
    Well who am i to say?
    Also what is so important about 14th feb and Valentine’s day? the Christian saints who were ‘martyred’ on this day maybe. But does anyone know about them. About Their lives and their causes.
    I would like this discussion to go in that direction too. So that we can learn something new. Learn something about some people and in this process learn a lesson.

  18. February 14th, 2008 1:13 pm

    Well, frankly speaking, the comments made by Tina are far more interesting than the blog :-) ‘Das was sehr lustig, Tina. Du hast sagte die schwer punkte, super!’

    Yesterday, i was checking ‘Pakistan’ tagged vids on youtube and the most popular, rated, relevant were mostly porn!

    Thats the image we have as a country over youtube.
    so if a girl with a duppatta is represented at AP, y not!
    but only if she allowed them to.

    but this whole valentine affair doesnot reflect pakistaniat, to me atleast. if it does, then i guess our pakistaniat has lost its essence….

  19. Pak says:
    February 14th, 2008 1:15 pm

    wow M Ishaq Sahib, I guess you are right…. Asli danger to Islam and our maeen bahnein are these photographers …. Those guys blowing up Pakistanis including many maeen behnain are doing God,a work….. Wah wah bhai, kiya logic hai aap ok

  20. Pak says:
    February 14th, 2008 1:20 pm

    By the way, for photo journalism no permission is needed unless the pic somehow jeapordizes someone…. Do you think they get permission from celebs who are also mothers and sisters… Or from earthquake victims…. Or from people who have parked wrong?

    As this discussion shows this is a legitimate news photo… From what I can see only one person has has ” bad thoughts” on seeing this…. Guess who!!!!

  21. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    February 14th, 2008 1:21 pm

    @Mr.Ishaq, verses the damn fools of Medias

    You jumped on the photo, too fast.
    The ” idea” was to prove that the flipping Valentine crap
    can be islamic by simply putting hijab on a girl. Paradise
    for Pakistani educated illitrates. You see, you missed
    the point ! the “genie” of all the pendoos on one side and
    the less pendoos on the other, this is the ” projected ”
    Pakistani society today !

    @The commentators are deviated by the, detoures
    only around the photo of a Hijab-yafta girl
    (probably Pakistani) !! but we should condemn
    the foolish, idiotic subject which is the source of
    moral corruption in a relatively vulnerable
    muslim society of Pakistan only respecting the
    minorities !
    Now, “logically, attacking Ishaq for his
    brusque critisim on just a photo, deviates, once again,
    our attention from the cheap infiltrating corrupt
    commercial filth in our society.
    Let me try to explain, !!! you all have CNN, BBC, French
    German, Belge TV etc, I have 140 channels, NOT ON ONE
    With Public money,
    Indeed, Jehalat has no religious or social frontiers.

    If the admis. informs us all gently that they are working
    only for the promotion of minorities and their religious
    rituals, we can decide whether or not, to continue wasting
    time on imbecilities like these.
    Are these Pakistani festivities ?????

  22. TEE BEE says:
    February 14th, 2008 2:23 pm





  23. Tina says:
    February 14th, 2008 2:36 pm

    Atif–the sentence should go, “Das war sehr lustig”.

    Rafay–You clearly feel very strongly about this. The holiday is not a major one, and has sort of a sweet and kindly meaning esp. for young lovers. It’s also the most completely non-religious holiday in history. So I wouldn’t get so very worked up about it.

    Something to get more upset about is how the “V-day”, like “Halloween”, is promoted heavily by advertisers just to sell tons and tons of sweets and junk. Whole fields of flowers in Central America are grown only to be harvested/sold on this one day and they are thrown away the rest of the year! So the flowers and candy become the “must-have” item even for multiple people, highlighting the whole sad orgy of waste and consumerism.

    But not to worry, I don’t think the majority of Pakistanis can afford to participate in this side of it, and who cares how the affluent blow their extra money? If not on Valentine’s Day red velvet teddy bears and candy hearts, they will find some other useless and thoroughly noticeable way to spend their dough, won’t they now?

  24. February 14th, 2008 2:37 pm

    I’m with Moiz on this, I would have liked to see this discussion go in the direction of Identity, or lack thereof in our society. I don’t have an issue with a western holiday related to Love, but we need to ask ourselves why a native cultral construct is not (developed) enough to celebrate love.

    Why can’t we celebrate a day for Sassi PunnooN or Sohni MaheNwal etc? If the point is to celebrate Love? IMO it points at the culture war stalemate that has been reached in Pakistan and which has created a cultural destitution and a vaccum such that internal cultural icons and concepts are not acceptable, but external (Arabic, Western, etc.) Cultural norms are accepted as “Fait Accompli”.

    Dance is ghair islami, painting is ghair islami, singing is meeraSi pooNRaaN, cinema is ghair islaami, expression of Punjabi, Balochi, Sindhi, PaKhtoon identity (via native poetry, legends, stories, singing) is “aSbi’yyat pasaNdi” if it goes out of the realm of “oh look, how cute, yet crude”. Striving for an imaginary and un-achievable cultural norm (Some Lukhnau based thingy apparently) was the end-all be-all of our “official” culture that all of us were supposed to “progress to”.

    The result is that no-one bought in to the culture pushed down from the top, and at the same time, all these cultural wars left us wounded and bleeding. And now our children know more sanskrit than persian or punjabi words. Our “intelligentsia” can’t finish an Urdu sentence without using English words. Our cinema has been decimated, but people still watch.. except that they watch Indian and English cinema..

    What we have ended up with is a vacuum, and therefore a mongrel culture. Mongrel not in the sense that it is a hybrid of native sensibilities (we should be so lucky). But a culture in severe identity crisis, a “PAKenstein” constructed out of external parts, as native parts were not acceptable to powers that (used to) be. Where wearing an abaayaa is OK, but wearing a “luNgi” is unacceptable, retrograde and “uncivilized”. Where adding useless and grotesquely out-of-place tongue twisting words from Arabic into Urdu are okay, but incorporating Punjabi or Sindhi vocabulary etc is taboo and uncivilized.

    No wonder we see objections regarding taking the pictures of a woman, but the very same people don’t even seem to have cognition of the fact that this is a major (and psychologically deep rooted) Christian event, and therefor any cohesive and cogent response to _that_ !!!

    To me (and I’m no Islamo NUT) it is more offensive that we have to import an external cultural construct to celebrate love when we have many examples of such things in our own culture with much deeper roots in the land.

  25. ABDUL says:
    February 14th, 2008 3:20 pm

    Hats off to Adil Najam, he knows his audience well

    Woh baat sarey fasaney mein jiss ka zikr na tha
    Woh baat unn ko Bohat nagawar guzri hai

  26. ABDUL says:
    February 14th, 2008 3:48 pm

    rafay k and others ask is valentine day “Pakistani” or pakistaniat. Well why not, if Pakistanis choose to celebrate it, and as a Pakistani living in Pakistan I know they do.

    It is no more or no less Pakistani than,eg, Eid whichthis website has written about so many times. Eid was an idea which I love but it was also imported from abroad as was Valentine day. What makes them Pakistani is that pakistani like celebrating them. If you don’t then please don’t celebrate them, I promise you we will not force you to.

    Also a day dedicated to love, friendship, and good wishes to all is not a bad idea . And those of you who think it is about “love” in that sense shame on you, its really more about friendship in the way we celbrate it. Children give valentine cards to parents and friends to friends.

    Frankly as someone who lives in Pakistan I am tired of people like Rafay sitting in Europe reminding us everyday of where he is and how many chanels he has and then dictating what real pakistan is. If you were that concerned about Pakistan you should not have run away from it. Sorry we pakistani have no interest in your long distance khutbas we will define Pakistan our own way.

  27. Salman Anjum says:
    February 15th, 2008 12:50 am

    i too believe that picture of the lady is taken without informing her and this must be against the ETHICAL MEDIA PRACTICES..

  28. libertarian says:
    February 15th, 2008 9:01 am

    Can I please admire the lady without deep soul-searching discussions about quite inconsequential/tangential stuff :-) – btw my wife thinks she’s cute too. This picture is not about to threaten the citadel of anything.

  29. Tina says:
    February 15th, 2008 10:08 am


    wow, interesting comment. Pakenstein–gotta love it.

    “Where wearing an abaaya is okay but a lungi is unacceptable”

    Yes, I’ve always wondered why the Arabization of Pakistan was super duper while other influences are not. I think some Arabs are sitting in the Gulf paying big money to export their ideology.

    Subject of a post in the future? That is, if the moderators are up to sorting the inevitable 600 rude comments that will follow?

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

  30. libertarian says:
    February 15th, 2008 2:33 pm

    Taban: very informative rant indeed.

    Have wondered for some time (as Tina pointed out) why Arabization was so important. Must have something to do with money flow. The irony is the Arabs think of subcontinental Muslims as woolly-headed softies – 2nd class citizens with an idol-worshiping background. But the Muslims of the subcontinent seem glad to take dictation from (and faithfully emulate) a patently illiterate, intolerant population.

  31. Moiz says:
    February 15th, 2008 3:16 pm

    Hats off to Tab’an Khamosh.

  32. Tina says:
    February 15th, 2008 3:25 pm


    the answer of course is that the Arabs were the first Muslims and “first” in most Muslims’ minds still means “purest” and “best”.

    Problem with this thinking is that of course Arabs have changed over the centuries just like everyone else so who is to say their ideas about Islam are “pure” and “better” 1,400 years on. Most Arabs today can’t read the Q’uran in original any better than non-Arabic speakers can, unless they have studied it specially.

  33. February 15th, 2008 3:27 pm

    I’m not sure if it’s the active export on the part of the decrepit Arab cultures or the vacuum inside our own cultural landscape that is sucking all the gunk in.

    The trojan horse of course is the one true way or “the Islamic way”, and the payload is every idiocy, ritual and superficialiaty associated with the “golden days of empire”. But the reasons of this change are still connected to the homicidal economic & culture wars being waged inside Pakistan amongst the various interest groups. (Natives vs. the Self Imposed Saahibs)

    The vacuum of course has been left in the wake of the silly culture war that was fought for the supremacy of Urdu/Nazria-Pakistan and the stalemate and the unwritten truce that has followed after the sinking of that particular boat ( in the Bay of Bengal) has basically allowed the Arabic/Islamic influence to come in. Buy why Arabic influence? Why doesthe vacuum prefer the Arabic influence over Western or Iranian influence? (or even Indian for that matter?) I think it is because the outward Arabization gives itself legitimacy through being subconsciously being equated to Islam itself. (and everyone knows keh “Pakistan kaa matlab kia” hai!)

    IMO, The importation of the Arabic influence in the guise of Islamization is in fact the second phase of the rebellion of the natives against the state and therefore the dominant and coercive cultural apparatus that vied to maintain control of resources and levers of power (through cultural dominance) over the natives. Interest group politics packaged in a sacred box colored white and green with a big ole chaaNd-sitaara sploched all over it.

    Any display of local identities can be brutally attacked and crushed by the coercive organs of the state, but what are you going to do when the same drive is exhibited through another even more “sacred” identity. The local identities, instead of dying at the hands of the center, have killed (negated?) themselves (in part) and re-constituted the struggle against the “center” (the invisible hand, the establishment, the language executioners etc.) using a newer more violent “Islamic” narrative.

    The war is still the same, but it is being fought in new garb, under seemingly different pretexts and apparently unrelated contexts. While in fact it is still about economic interests, but everyone involved has figured out that the old ways of control aren’t working. However, the same group holds the coercive powers of the state, therefore the need to change to a newer more violent “Islamic” (outwardly Arabized) tint to the struggle (of the disadvantaged natives.)

    The ethnic and linguistic makeup of the suicide bombers and the various “Lashkar-e-X” are clues to that particular dynamic.

    At least that’s what I think right now.

  34. Tina says:
    February 15th, 2008 3:36 pm

    And also, to constantly say that non-Arabs have nothing to contribute to Islamic thought, and have never contributed anything that is worthwhile or correct (unless Arabs agree with it), is to say in effect that Islam is so tied into Arabic identity as to be a religion only for Arabs. This is the opposite of what most Muslims believe Islam teaches.

  35. Hamid Ch says:
    February 15th, 2008 3:37 pm

    I think our beloved Saudis got it right – we should ban anything that is red on Valentines day. Paint over all the Red Crescent signs – rename the Red Sea …
    then ban anything orange for Halloween… ban pink on Mothers Day, blue on Father’s day

  36. Tina says:
    February 15th, 2008 4:28 pm

    Don’t forget we have to ban GREEN also as that is the color of Christmas….

  37. February 15th, 2008 4:28 pm

    I posted some pictures of Valentine

  38. libertarian says:
    February 16th, 2008 8:01 am

    Tina: thanks for explaining – makes sense to me.

    Taban.Khamosh: The importation of the Arabic influence in the guise of Islamization is in fact the second phase of the rebellion of the natives against the state …

    Don’t underestimate the “we are not India” roots. Better to be associated with the pure in Arabia – even if they have trouble reading, and believe we’re an inferior race – than to be identified with the money-grabbing, “cunning” Hindu bania. May not be as important now – but the formative years were a determined effort to make sure Lahore felt different from Delhi and that you were not in Lucknow or Meerut any more. As one commentator put it, life went “right to left”.

  39. Daktar says:
    February 16th, 2008 5:03 pm

    The real battle is one of identity. The battle continues. As you guys say we are a divided society.

  40. ASAD says:
    February 14th, 2010 12:53 pm

    This picture is the best commentary on Valentine Day I have seen anywhere!

  41. Humaira says:
    February 14th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Luv the headline and the picture.

    Yes, Happy Valentine, Peshawar.

  42. Ali says:
    February 14th, 2010 1:38 pm

    Mr. Adil, You should have blurred the image (face) of the lady in the picture. Or did you ask her permission before posting her picture here?

    At least I didn’t find any refernce of this photo in AP

  43. Aliya says:
    February 14th, 2010 1:41 pm

    @Ali. What a silly comment from you. Why blur a news photograph? You live in a cave or something?

  44. Ali says:
    February 14th, 2010 2:37 pm

    I don’t know how much do you know about privacy. If this is a photo of a woman, let’s assume, her husband or father or brother are illiterate and because of her photo publiushed like this (heart framed) or even if she doesn’t want her photo to be like this and this is not a NEWS crime/accident story. If someone will take my photo and will publish without my permissin like this, I will sue ther person/news agency.

    May be not your fault, many people don’t think before they say.

  45. seemi says:
    February 14th, 2010 2:43 pm

    here are some facts:
    this is 21st century, internet, fast communication technologies and ecommerce has given rise to what we call Globalization.
    this essentially means cultures and people will interact and absorb influences.
    another fact, western cultures are dominant – let me guess why– probably they are tailored to the needs of those who intend to live in 21st century and live a normal life.

    now if some ppl are feeling threatened by V day being christian day and not islamic and pkistani…then here is a food for thought….Iran’s autocractic theocratic regime tried since last two decades banning internet…and today its own ppl are fighting that regime by a never-seen-before twitter and you-tube war,….

    lesson…dont fight the power of modern world

    now the concern: our identity is getting lost…no heer no sussi no punno….no bulle-shah……

    wht should we do…..

    here is a suggestion.
    1. decide if you want to be part of modern world…. if answer is yes…then go to point 2….if answer is no….then stop reading here….

    2. accept that coming age will see emergence of global identities, where ppl who have very ethnocentric mentality will be at a loser’s end ….

    3. now if you are concerned of seeing something pakistani..something at par with islami in the final global image that will emerge …..then start thinking about what is that we can offer that will be acceptable to world at large …..(my advice dont think of anything that will start with following words….”cave age”…”burqa”….”hajaab”……”e valuable thing is in cover, mango is in cover so shld be a woman”….”bahiyaa ki ghairatt”….”honor killing”….”three east steps to suicide bombing”…..”kill kill kill”…..)

    4. once you figure out wht the global world is and wht it means to be global…then pick up your open, open your literature books, open your laptops….and start reshaping your treasure for offering to the modern world….if it is worth something…..trust me world will accept it……

    My final words…learn to integrate, learn to offer and sell what you believe in….or else prepare to be dominated….and prepare to see no glimpse of pakistaniyat in the tomorrow’s civilized world

    oh by the way….happy V day….(till we succeed in offering an acceptable alternative on some other day :))

  46. Aliya says:
    February 14th, 2010 2:45 pm

    Actually, I know quite a bit about privacy law (the type of stuff they taught us at Law School).

    For news photographs, you do NOT need permission. Do you think they take permission from the cricket match crowd when taking their photograph or showing them on TV.

    If there was something compromising in the picture then there might be a courtesy argument, but there is no such thing in that. A woman is looking at a card in a shop, what is wrong with that. The picture becomes interesting only because of the angle (via another card), but otherwise is totally innocent, except in teh dirty minds of some men maybe!

    As a woman, I see no problem with this. Nor why my brother or father would be concerned.

    If you are indeed her brother or father maybe you should apologize to her for the implication of your sexist comment.

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)