Pakistan high court bans Valentine’s Day

A Pakistani vendor carries heart-shaped bouquets for sale ahead of Valentine's Day along a street in Islamabad on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2017

Pakistan high court bans Valentine’s Day

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court Monday banned public celebrations of Valentine’s Day in the capital Islamabad, the latest attempt by authorities to outlaw a holiday seen by many in the traditional Muslim society as vulgar and Western.
The Islamabad high court issued the order after a petitioner declared love was being used as a “cover” to spread “immorality, nudity and indecency... which is against our rich traditions and values.”
The ruling, seen by AFP and greeted with approval by Islamist parties, also called for the electronic and print media to stop promoting Valentine’s Day.
Some restaurants in Islamabad continued to send out text messages advertising Valentine’s Day promotions even after the ban was announced.
However preparations appeared muted in more conservative areas such as Peshawar, capital of northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, where only a handful of shops were selling Valentine’s Day-themed goods.
The annual occasion is increasingly popular among young Pakistanis, many of whom seize the chance to celebrate romance by giving cards, chocolates and gifts to their sweethearts.
But the country remains deeply conservative, and many disapprove of the holiday as an indecent Western import.
Last year, Pakistan president Mamnoon Hussain had urged the nation to refrain from celebrating Valentine’s Day, saying it had no place in the Muslim-majority nation. Other officials blasted it as “vulgar and indecent.”
VIDEO: Pakistan's Supreme Court outlaws Valentine's Day celebration


Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

Updated 23 min 3 sec ago

Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

  • Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts
  • Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016

JAKARTA: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday she had been asked by President Joko Widodo to stay on in her post as his new cabinet takes shape for a second five-year term in office.

Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts, including his presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, who looks set to be defense minister.

The candidates — all wearing white shirts — have come to the presidential palace to be interviewed by Widodo, with most declining to confirm the positions offered ahead of an official announcement expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Widodo, Indrawati said she had agreed to stay on as finance minister and to ensure policies supported the president’s priorities such as improving human resources, creating jobs and executing government budgets well.

“Indonesia I think is facing a very dynamic and uncertain global economy and an economic slowdown that is pressuring the whole world,” Indrawati said.

“Therefore, a continued policy is needed in order to be able to guard our economy from the challenge of this global slowdown,” she said, noting she also discussed ways to narrow Indonesia’s current account and trade deficits.

Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016, spearheading tax reform efforts, seeking to capitalize on a tax amnesty program in 2016-2017. She is now one of the longest serving finance ministers in Indonesia, having also held the post in the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Sri Mulyani is seen as a key architect behind the fiscal discipline in recent years and many wish for her continued leadership in driving deeper fiscal reforms,” Bank of America wrote in a note.

The make-up of the cabinet is being closely watched to see how many technocrats — who are more likely to fall in with Widodo’s plans for boosting growth and investment — were included.

Other ministerial candidates who came to the palace on Tuesday included Basuki Hadimuljono, who is credited with driving infrastructure projects as public works minister in Widodo’s first term, and Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister in the first term.

On Monday, Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive of tech startup Gojek and media tycoon Erick Thohir, a former chairman of Italian soccer club Inter Milan, were among those confirming they had been asked to join the cabinet.

Speaking to media ahead of his inauguration on Sunday, Widodo said around 16 ministers in the new cabinet would come from political parties out of an anticipated 34 posts.