Pakistanis share a love-hate relationship with the entertainment industry across the border. On one hand, Bollywood stars enjoy huge popularity here. But on the other hand, we are very proud of our drama industry and actors … and rightly so. Pakistani dramas are popular around the world due to their strong storylines and acting. However, there is a section of people in Pakistan who follow Indian dramas. Such people can heave a sigh of relief now as the Lahore High Court has lifted the PEMRA Ban on airing Indian dramas.
The PEMRA Ban on Indian Content
PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) had imposed a ban on broadcasting of Indian dramas on private television channels with valid licenses to show Indian content. This ban was imposed via a circular on October 19, 2016. It was for the Indian content on the cable channels in Pakistan. PEMRA’s ban was a reaction to a ban on Pakistani actors and technicians by the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) following the Uri attacks in September 2016.
Producer Ashoke Pandit, a member of the IMPPA had said,
“IMPPA paid homage to the martyrs of Uri. It therefore felt its responsibility towards the nation and passed a resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns. For IMPPA, nation comes first.”
The decision was passed on 18th July. Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court reversed the ban. The judgement came after a local media company Leo Communications filed a petition against PEMRA’s ban. The petitioner reasoned that PEMRA’s ban on airing Indian dramas persisted even though the ban on exhibiting and broadcasting Indian movies had been lifted. Renowned lawyer Asma Jahangir acted as the petitioner’s counsel. She accused PEMRA of practicing ‘selective patriotism’ with regard to airing Indian film and drama.
PEMRA’s counsel defended the state watchdog’s position by saying that PEMRA had issued the ban notification in response to the restriction on broadcasting Pakistani dramas and movies in India. He also justified the ban by saying that Indian content contained material against Pakistani culture and ideology.
The LHC judge struck down the ban after hearing the arguments of both sides. He also reasoned that PEMRA could easily censor out any objectionable material. He also advised PEMRA to review its policy, as the world has become a global village.
— Report PEMRA (@reportpemra) July 18, 2017
The verdict to allow channels to air Indian content received mixed reactions. While the saas-bahu drama addicts will view this decision favorably, those who prefer Pakistani dramas would not be over the moon about it. Only time will tell whether the judgement was a wise one or not.