Stories about censorship

GI Joe 2: On censorship and movies based on children’s toys

Censorship. The worst enemy of intellectual freedom. The worst enemy of creativity. The worst enemy of an egalitarian, democratic society. And the best friend of the establishment. Censorship is why people in this country don’t know the history of this land. Censorship is why any reliable information construed as critical of Pakistan’s power players will vanish from the airwaves. Censorship is why Pakistan will not see the GI Joe sequel. The upcoming movie has been banned by the Pakistani censor board for its ‘fictional’ portrayal of Pakistan as a failed state and the also fictional theft of Pakistani nuclear weapons by Cobra. Max ...

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No stupid, banning Indian films will not help Pakistani films

Ayub Khan first banned Indian films in Pakistan in 1965. While it was a developing industry, the protectionist policy had a nationalist undertone rather than a solid economic rationale that would benefit filmmakers. Obscured by a political and nationalistic dimension, the long-term health of Pakistani cinema was ultimately hindered. Today, the debate regarding the ban on Indian films is prevalent amongst the film community. The idea is that through a protectionist policy one can adequately control competition, thus giving an edge to Pakistani films at the box office. The debate has been dominated by hardline filmmakers who insist that they can not only protect the ...

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No IPL cheerleaders for hypocrites

IPL never appealed to me as a concept; I pretty much perceived it as a cheap rip off of the English Premier League. As it happened, I watched an innings in which both Chris Gayle and A B De Villiers were on the field and, well, I got hooked. With time the awareness sunk in that IPL was nothing like EPL. The recent off-field drama has brought IPL into the lime light much more than the on-field performances. These include antics from Bollywood superstars along with allegations of spot fixing. With all the glamour and dazzle of the IPL, it is ...

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Agent Vinod: Another sign of Pak-India tensions?

This post was originally published on the Wall Street Journal. To read more by Tom Wright, click here.  ______________________________________________ Showing a Pakistani army general watching a courtesan dancing? Using shots of Karachi airport without permission? Or generally portraying Pakistan in a bad light? Whatever the reasons for Pakistan’s decision to ban Agent Vinod, the latest Khan-Kapoor offering, most of us will have to wait for Friday to see what the fuss is about. If earlier bans are anything to go by, it’s probably a storm in a teacup, more indicative of the parlous state of India-Pakistan relations than the content ...

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Warning! The PTA might not approve of this bakwas

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has decided to ban the word ‘bakwaas’ (nonsense). Let me say this right here – that is such bakwaas. It has also banned the word Jesus Christ. There go Merry Christmas messages to Christian friends. There goes, now that I think about it, this particular conversation I found in my phone: “Hey I heard you were ill – did you really faint in Chemistry class today?” “Jesus, how fast does news spread around school anyway? I am feeling much better.” To be honest though, I am not that fussed. Stranger, inexplicable things have happened. Facebook, for instance was banned ...

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PTA bans, and words we cannot say

Dearly beloved and graciously naïve, The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has allegedly compiled a list of words that the directors have deemed obscene and want to ban for text messages. As laughable as this may seem, this list, if real, is a clear example of the extremist mentality that some of the office-bearers in Pakistan have. Sifting through these banned words, I discovered that even the word “Jesus Christ” might be forbidden, along with many other words of everyday usage. Why on earth has Jesus’s name been banned? Is it some kind of an abusive word? As much as rightists and McBurqas may like it, ...

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Media madness: Sometimes the show must not go on

Veena Malik’s interviews on the Express News show ‘Frontline with Kamran Shahid’ remained a source of much debate last month – a classic case of sensationalisation. The two episodes, however, are not the only examples of media’s – broadcast media in particular – irresponsible behaviour. Here are some examples: The suicide of the wife of Raymond Davis’ victim was surely disturbing, but there is no justification as to why her footage was shown on television while she battled for her life. A while back, Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar was killed in Karachi and within an hour of his death, Geo News ...

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Slackistan: Not coming to a cinema near you

The Pakistani creative and entertainment industry is in the line of fire yet again. Last week’s cause célèbre is incidental heroine Veena Malik, the Lollywood actress whose participation in the Indian reality television show Bigg Boss, has touched a raw nerve with Pakistan’s self-appointed morality brigade (media and mullah alike). She emerged from Kamran Shahid’s show Frontline as an ambassador for showbiz and entertainment. This week, we have been greeted with the news that Hammad Khan’s feature film Slackistan with an all-Pakistani cast will not be released in Pakistan because of the raft of objections and censorship demands from the Pakistani Central ...

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CIA names: US media’s self-censorship

The media in Pakistan, including the much-vaunted English press, is often accused of indulging in self-censorship. Given that we live in a country plagued by endemic violence and threats to journalists, this may well be true to some extent. However, one thing that caught my attention today was how various newspapers had covered the ousting of America’s CIA station chief in Islamabad and the fact that he had to leave the country because his cover had been blown. The story began with the filing of a complaint with police in Islamabad by a man called Karim Khan who alleged that ...

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Gagging dissent won’t silence Arundhati Roy

Socrates was morally, intellectually and politically at odds with his fellow Athenians and he paid the price for it. And he paid the price in terms of his life. Poison took away his life, but his death could not kill the ideas and thoughts he espoused. Arundhati Roy’s saga in India sometimes reminds me of ancient Athens and its ruling class. One example is the way the Indian ruling class, major opposition party and the mainstream media reacted to Roy’s comments questioning India’s right over Kashmir and calling for it’s independence. If one takes the statement at face value, it appears to ...

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