Pakistan govt’s move to ban military-backed movie challenged in HC

"The ban shows the government is nervous over Panama Leaks scandal. It wants to suppress any voice against its corruption," Pakistan Peoples' Party leader Faisal Mir said.

By: PTI | Lahore | Updated: April 28, 2016 6:03 pm

The Pakistan government’s decision to ban controversial movie ‘Maalik’ on the subject of militancy, projecting politicians in poor light and glorifying the military, was on Thursday challenged in the Lahore High Court.

Advocate Mahboob Alam filed a petition in the High Court seeking lifting of the ban on the Urdu movie, a day after the government issued a notification to stop its screening.

“The movie is providing the entertainment and moral lessons to the general public,” Alam said, adding that it was not against Islam, integrity of Pakistan, the public order or decency.

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The petitioner requested the court to admit the petition and impugned the government’s notification in this regard.

The notification issued by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage had said that the federal government declares ‘Maalik’ as uncertified film in the whole of Pakistan “with immediate effect”.

The government has not given any reason for banning the film which was apparently backed by media wing of the armed forces – the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

‘Maalik’, a political–military thriller film made by director Ashir Azeem shows the struggle of a man in Pakistan’s elite Special Forces whose life gets entangled with politics.

Extensive military hardware were used in the film including multiple helicopters MI-17 and MI-35 Gunships, T-55 Tanks and C-130 Hercules aircraft. Pakistan’s Special Forces has provided extensive support including advanced weapons, ammunition and training to the cast and crew.

Meanwhile, opposition parties claimed that the movie is banned in connection with the ongoing debate on corruption of politicians with reference to the Panama Papers Leak.

“The ban shows the government is nervous over Panama Leaks scandal. It wants to suppress any voice against its corruption,” Pakistan Peoples’ Party leader Faisal Mir said.

He said the ban is tantamount to suppressing the freedom of expression and added that the ban after three weeks of its screening is evident that the Nawaz government is not ready to listen anything against corruption since the names of his children surfaced in Panama Papers for having off-shore holdings.

Condemning the ban, Censor Board member Zeba Bakhtiar said that being a member of it does not mean anything.

“The federal government overrides every decision. I condemn the ban. It is absurd. It can damage the image of Pakistan internationally. We need a softer image,” she was quoted as saying by Dawn.

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