So, for the second one yr in a row, pink “I Love You” balloons and heart-shape bins of goodies had been necessarily contraband. Police officials in Islamabad searched thru streets and retail outlets in fresh days on the lookout for Valentine’s Day gross sales. A live performance through Atif Aslam, a common heartthrob singer, that have been scheduled for Wednesday was once postponed.
Some eating place managers reported receiving calls from unknown numbers asking whether or not girls and boys had exchanged presents on their premises, and whether or not they knew of alternative institutions that could be staring at the vacation. Numerous florists and reward retail outlets in Islamabad complained that that they had misplaced important trade as consumers stayed away.
But there have been additionally many in Islamabad who didn’t thoughts taking a possibility for romance — or to make some cash — in defiance of the ban.
In the prosperous community F-7, the place Obaid Malik, a younger businessman, was once parked out of doors a strip of flower retail outlets, dealers elbowed one every other to turn him the long-stemmed roses he had requested for. Before the ban, the road had generally been jammed the night time sooner than Valentine’s Day, however now the department stores stood quiet and dealers appeared extra determined than standard to make a sale.
“What does Valentine’s Day have to do with the government? Why are they bothering people?” Mr. Malik stated because the florists confirmed him various kinds of roses. Three defiantly pink helium balloons hovered at the back of his automotive.
“Three balloons because, you know, ‘I love you’ is three words,” he stated.
Mr. Malik stated that he would now not take his spouse out for Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner this yr, however that he deliberate to marvel her through cooking her breakfast.
“People are still going to go out and do their thing and have fun — maybe just in different ways,” he stated. “You can’t ban love.”
Another buyer, Shakeel Khan, a banker who was once purchasing white lilies for his mom, stated he had taken his fiancée out for a Valentine’s Day dinner over the weekend.
“I had heard of the ban and didn’t know what to expect, so we thought, let’s just get it out of the way,” Mr. Khan stated. He stood in entrance of a flower store stuffed with white roses, multicolor gladioli and red chrysanthemums — however there wasn’t a pink rose in sight.
The store’s proprietor, Muhammad Imran, stated the police had warned him to not promote pink flora on Valentine’s Day. So the pink roses, he stated, had been hidden at the back of the store, the place he would lead unswerving consumers who requested for them.
“My workers have also been calling customers to let them know that home delivery is available this year for the first time,” Mr. Imran stated, asking that the positioning of his store now not be disclosed. “Delivery is just safer,” he stated with a shrug.
At the Baramda cafe, the chief, Tariq Sohail, glanced at a desk at the pavement out of doors, the place a younger guy and a lady sat smoking and guffawing.
“You can ban a day, but you can’t stop people from being together or from falling in love,” he stated, breaking into a chuckle.
Some eating places determined on-line promotions could be most secure. “We’ve got a 15 percent discount today, but we only advertised it on Facebook and Instagram,” stated a waiter at Nocciola Chocolaterie.
Similarly, a few consumers stated that they had opted for “virtual dates” to keep away from imaginable harassment through the government at eating places.
“My girlfriend can’t get out tonight, so I’ll be Skyping with her,” a college pupil stated over espresso on the upscale Kohsar Market. His buddy, a curly-haired younger lady, instructed converting Valentine’s Day to Friend’s Day.
“That might work better in Pakistan,” she stated. A 3rd buddy, dressed in a shiny pink hoodie, disagreed: “No. We need a Valentine’s Day revolution here. That’s what we need.”
In every other a part of the city, law enforcement officials shooed away a guy who had arrange a stall to promote unmarried roses. “We are just doing our job,” one stated when requested why that they had intervened.
Balloon dealers had been additionally looking for the police. Most had selected to not promote heart-shape or pink balloons, as an alternative choosing stars, circles and bird- and animal-shape ones.
But one dealer, Muhammad Akhar, was once boldly promoting pink balloons that learn “You Are Mine.”
“If the people who are coming to buy them are not scared,” he stated, “then why should I be?”
He was once now not the one balloon vendor taking a stand. Next to a boy providing massive, animal-shape balloons, every other younger dealer held some small heart-shape ones, pink and white.
“I didn’t blow them up to their full size,” stated the boy, Sarfaraz Ali, taking a look over his shoulder with an impish smile. “I’ll do it for you if you want one.”
But when he noticed a couple of law enforcement officials coming near, he began to again away.
“Madam, please wait for me here,” he stated as he bolted, the tiny hearts trailing at the back of him. “Don’t go away, I’ll be right back!”