Pakistan’s government has banned a film about endemic corruption in its judiciary, law enforcement and political class, claiming it could promote violence.
The decision to censor Maalik has led to increased demand for the film in the black market, with many Pakistanis curious to know why it provoked the ire of politicians.
Pakistan is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, placing 117th out of 175 countries, according to the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index put together by Transparency International.
Many Pakistanis told Al Jazeera they looked forward to watching Maalik and suggested the government’s made its decision because the film’s themes struck too close to home.
Dozens of corruption cases under investigation in Pakistan
“Movies are for entertainment purposes … they deliver a message to the public,” Kashmala Qureshi, a student, said.
“If it is made on the basis of corruption and the government feels threatened by the movie, it means that they are guilty from inside.”
One of Maalik’s actors, Arif Khan, said the filmmakers had set out to expose the underbelly of corruption that exists within the country.
He said banning the film would only increase its appeal.
Ashir Azeem, who directed Maalik, told Al Jazeera politicians were concerned with their image internationally and were trying to censor anything that cast them in bad light.
“Authorities in Pakistan are very concerned with how they are perceived, especially abroad,” Azeem said.
“Whereas this might be considered an overreaction in some countries, it has become the go-to method for the authorities to ban content they deem offensive or controversial.”
The controversy surrounding the film comes just weeks after leaked documents revealed that Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, stashed huge sums of money in offshore accounts.
Source: Al Jazeera