LAHORE: The Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage of Pakistan has stopped the export of Ashir Azeem’s latest film Maalik, by issuing a letter to the Ministry of Commerce, advising it to follow suit due to controversial content.
The film was banned in Pakistan just three weeks after its release, under the tenets of Section 9 of the Motion Picture Ordinance 1979. The law declared Maalik uncertified and cinemas across the country took it down. Consequently, Maalik’s cast and crew, distributors as well as cinema owners all suffered.
On the other hand, some sources have claimed that the ministry wrote no formal letter, nor has it sent any stringent instruction to Azeem. Apparently, the ban is more of a verbal commitment between the ministry officials on how to tackle the film-maker, should he attempt to release his film abroad. No representative of the ministry was available to comment on this matter.
Nonetheless, Azeem has maintained his ground. He even filed a petition in the Sindh and Punjab High Courts against the ban, claiming there is no controversial content in his film. And now, with the export ban being implemented, Maalik is unlikely to be screened in foreign countries.
“Being a responsible citizen of the country, I contacted the courts — which is my right. I was still waiting for their decision on the local ban when I received the new instructions,” said Azeem, when questioned about the export ban. “I am surprised this is happening. Why am I being targeted alone? This has never happened with any other Pakistani film in our history. It feels as though I am the only one doing wrong in the country and everyone else is right.” Azeem added that he has put his trust in the courts’ hands and hoped he will find justice soon.