It appears that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is quite fast to learn his lessons; now he must be looking for those advisors who arranged premiere of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary against honour killing, ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’, at the Prime Minister’s House in last February. When Mufti Naeem openly abused Sharmeen on electronic media and reprimanded Nawaz Sharif for honouring Sharmeen, things started taking the natural route. Though the Senate has already passed the Anti-Rape and Anti-honour killing bills since 2014, but these two bills repeatedly failed to get National Assembly’s approval. Lot of expectations were attached with the Parliament’s Joint Session this April to get these bills passed with the help of Senators votes. But apparently religious parties’ threat to launch a PNA-style movement against government has put the Prime Minister on back foot and these very two bills were deferred for further discussions with religious parties — means chapter closed. Perhaps screening of Sharmeen’ documentary was Nawaz’ only mistake; his government has now practically vowed to shoot down any thing not favoured by the religious parties. Take the case of ‘Among the Believers’, a documentary about Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and its ever growing influence over Pakistani society and its links with religious militancy. That documentary has already been screened in 20 countries, has won a dozen or so awards. I was moved by the logic put forward by the Federal Censor Board while banning the movie that it “promotes a negative image of Pakistan in the context of the ongoing fight against extremism and terrorism”. One can’t even laugh on this logic; film has already been screened in a number of counties, Pakistani authorities are in fact delivering a negative image by banning the movie that we are not ready to accept the reality. Don’t know what to call this mentality — hypocrisy or ostrich completely burying itself in the sand. PM Nawaz Sharif and his allies need to realize that world has moved forward; by banning realities to be screened, whether it’s ‘Maalik’ or ‘Among the Believers’; everyone knows who is the puppeteer playing with 200 million odd puppets?
— Via email