In Brief

Maalik movie ban sparks cries of censorship in Pakistan

Ministers say Maalik was banned by the government because it showed politicians in a negative light

The Pakistani government has been accused of censorship after it issued a nationwide ban on the Urdu feature film Maalik. 

The Ministry of Information declared earlier this week that the movie, which had already been showing in cinemas for weeks, was "uncertified for the whole of Pakistan".

The action movie tells the story of a former special services commando who runs a private security company that protects the country's chief minister. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"94313","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

The government gave no reason for its intervention, which is unusual as film regulation is normally carried out by local censorship boards.

BBC Urdu says the film "has touched a nerve" with authorities for depicting politicians in a negative light, and has also been accused of promoting vigilantism and ethnic stereotyping. "An unnamed ministry official [said] the film had been banned because it shows a former chief minister as a man of corruption and opulence," it says.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) says it recommended that the film be banned in order to protect public safety.

"People were threatening to burn down cinemas and other public properties," chairman Mobashir Hasan told the Pakistan Tribune.

"We proposed the Information Ministry de-certify the film to avoid a major catastrophe and a law and order situation."

Filmmakers deny these claims, with director Asher Azeem Gill accusing the government of censorship and "political and linguistic spin".

Freedom of expression is already under threat in Pakistan, says the BBC.  

"Many journalists, analysts and commentators feeling that there are some topics, including religion and the military that you just can't touch."

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