In a country with a reputation for its bold and creative art forms, neon lights have been the stuff of legend for decades.
But the lights that the country has made famous have now taken a turn for the worse.
According to the Pakistan Institute of Design, the country’s government is banning neon light installations on its streets, forcing residents to switch to non-neon bulbs instead.
And since 2015, when a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the main bus terminal, Islamabad has been the epicenter of a national debate over the proliferation of the lights.
The government has declared the lights illegal, banning their installation in public spaces.
The ban also bans the use of neon lights in schools, parks and playgrounds, and prohibits the installation of more than two dozen neon lights each at any one time.
The move was announced by Interior Minister Asif Ali Zardari, who is himself a fan of neon light art.
“There are two main reasons why these lights are banned: First, they are not eco-friendly and secondly, they cause excessive pollution,” Zardarari told a press conference on Tuesday.
The minister also pointed out that there are other lighting options that Pakistan can use, including fluorescent and carbon-based light sources.
He added that the government was looking into how to bring these light sources to the capital, a city that has seen its share of deadly attacks.
But while Zardary is a fan, others in the country are not so keen.
“The government should not ban the lights, it should help them to develop alternative energy sources,” said Mohammad Ali Shah, a civil engineer and a member of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
“We are happy that they are trying to bring some light to the city but they need to do more to bring them to other parts of the country.”
Despite the ban, Zardaria insisted that Islamabad would continue to have its neon lights.
“The people are against this ban.
We are all against it.
The lights are a symbol of our culture, our history, our traditions and our pride,” he said.
While the government has made it clear that it wants to preserve the lights and the art they represent, it has also made it very clear that the lights are not going anywhere.
The country’s tourism, energy and tourism ministry have announced that they would not ban or restrict the installation in any way.
“We will continue to provide these lights, as well as other energy sources to all the people of Pakistan,” Zardsari told the media.
“Neon lights are an art form that we should continue to support,” said Zardaris spokesman, Ahmed Sajjad.
“People have a right to choose their own way of living, but we also have to respect the law.
People who choose to install these lights should not be discriminated against.”
Pakistan’s National Green Tribunal has also said it will not enforce the ban on the lights in the city, according to the Pakistani news site The Nation.
Zardari has already met with the interior minister and the provincial government in the capital to discuss the ban.
And on Tuesday, the interior ministry announced that it would take action against the owners of some of the neon lights that have been illegally installed.
“Neon bulbs are illegal and will be confiscated,” the ministry said in a statement.
“There is a case pending against the owner of one of the illegal neon lights for violating the ban.”
In a statement, the Interior Ministry also said that it had sent letters to the owners who installed the lights asking them to remove the lights from the street.
The interior ministry did not provide any information on the number of people who have been issued notices.
Zardarian said that the decision to issue the notices would be based on the information gathered from the investigation.
“It’s a matter of time before we issue an order to confiscate the lights,” he added.
But despite the recent ban, the issue of neon lighting has not yet faded from the minds in Islamabad.
“If you want to light up your house, you will have to get rid of your neon,” said Nabeel Khan, an artist who works in the art sector.
“So we need to find new ideas.
It is just like in any other art form.”
But Zardarius supporters say that the issue should not get in the way of the celebration of the new year, which is just two weeks away.
“This is a good moment to celebrate the new years,” said one poster on the site.
“Our new year should not stop with the ban of neon, but with all of the other forms of lighting.”