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Valentine’s Day in Pakistan faces fight

ISLAMABAD — Romance is not dead in Pakistan, but it’s under attack.

Conservatives in Pakistan tacked up posters urging people to boycott Valentine’s Day Thursday, saying it is a Western-inspired event that’s spreading vulgarity in their country. Romantics fought back with an arsenal of flowers, pink teddy bears, and heart-shaped balloons.

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‘‘Here in this part of Pakistan we are faced with bomb blasts, and we don’t have much opportunity to enjoy and celebrate so to me it is one of those few occasions to celebrate,’’ said Taimur Hassan, a 29-year-old man working in the northwestern city of Peshawar. He bought a gift for his girlfriend, looking for something other than a stuffed bear he got her last year.

That is exactly the type of behavior many of Pakistan’s conservatives fear.

For them, Valentine’s Day is nothing but an occasion to encourage illicit ties between the country’s young — unmarried — males and females. It is a sign that Western culture and values are eating away at Pakistan’s traditional Islamic society. Valentine’s Day, they argue, is not a Pakistani holiday and not part of the culture.

In the city of Karachi, billboards implored people to ‘‘Say no to Valentine’s Day.’’

Attitudes toward Valentine’s Day, named after a Christian saint said to have been martyred by the Romans in the third century, vary across the Arab world, with some devout Muslims opposing the holiday as a Western celebration of romantic love that corrupts Muslim youth.

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