The University of Agriculture Faisalabad has announced it will celebrate Sisters’ Day on February 14 to “promote Islamic traditions”. Female students can be gifted scarves and Abayahs (clothes) as decided by Vice Chancellor Zafar Iqbal Randhawa of the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad and other decision makers. Randhawa said he wasn’t sure if his suggestion to celebrate Sisters’ Day “would click or not”, but he believed it was compatible with Pakistan’s culture and Islam. Randhawa said that although some Muslims have turned Valentine’s Day into a threat, “My thinking is that if there is a threat, convert it into an opportunity.” The VC said that Muslim women face certain conditions related to their attire which dictate that their body should not be revealed. “Women are at a very high rank for us,” he added. “Today the era of gender empowerment is here, Western thinking is being promoted,” he complained. “But the best gender empowerment and division of work is in our religion and culture.” He claimed that celebrating Sisters’ Day would allow “a soft image to develop”, and that people will realise that this is how much sisters are loved in Pakistan. Valentine’s Day has been a subject of controversy in Pakistan for years. The Islamabad High Court had in 2017 and 2018 “banned” Valentine’s Day celebrations, and print and electronic media were warned to “stop all Valentine’s Day promotions immediately”. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had also been ordered to monitor all mediums and send out notifications banning any related promotions. In 2016, former president Mamnoon Hussain urged Pakistanis to forego celebrating Valentine’s Day, saying that it was not a part of Muslim tradition, but a Western innovation. Published in Daily Times, January 14th 2019.