Mixed responses coming in from different school of thoughts on recently banned controversial political-thriller Maalik. Those in support of ban have an issue with deliberate ethnic profiling of Sindhis and Baloch people depicted as oppressors while Punjabis and Pakhtoons shown as saviors. The other objectionable issue is killing of Minister by his own guard who in the movie is portrayed as Hero reminds the Mumtaz Qadri episode and occurrence of violent incidents afterwards.
On April 26, 18 days after releasing the film was banned by Sindh Board of Film Censor, Government of Sindh. However, the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah intervened and asked the ministry not to issue it as it would be ‘against the freedom of expression but very next day, The Federal Government has banned Maalik nationwide in a notification.
Just like any other controversy Pakistani media got an issue for a couple of weeks and they are inviting politicians, actors, journalists and civil society to discuss ban on Maalik, the movie.
Apparently Journalists, politicians and civil society seems to be on same page and agreed that the movie contains controversial and sensitive nature of subject but actors and a handful of journalists (claim to be patriots) defying the ban under the garb of freedom of speech. Completely ignoring the fact that the same journalists cannot touch “Holy Cows” corruption in their very programs.
To ban Maalik or not is another issue but in larger perspective recent curb by Government of Pakistan exposed their vague and confused policy on freedom of speech. Seems just like other state of affairs they simply have no clear strategy on what to allow on media and what not.
Sometimes Pakistani Government set bench marks allowing freedom of speech to an extent that prisoners from the death cell come on media and record confessional statements and that too without bringing into the knowledge of interior minister and sometimes the same Pakistani Government blacks out MQM supremo Altaf Hussain from coming or issuing any kind of statement on media at all.
In my opinion movies on controversial subjects should be screened in Pakistani cinemas but the policy should be for all.
Selective censorship in cinemas, Tv programs or even on over all media appearances would push Government into more trouble since toeing policy on freedom of speech from “Power houses” of the country would ultimately bring down the so called democracy and its genuine custodians.