Censorship

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Censorship
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Pakistan 🇵🇰 is an Asian country that primarily worships Islam, with some minorities that practice Hinduism, Christianity and Sikhism. It became independent from India in 1947, after the partition of India. East Pakistan seceded from Pakistan in 1971 and became an independent state called the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

General censorship[]

The Pakistani Constitution limits censorship in Pakistan, but allows "reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan or public order or morality". Press freedom in Pakistan is limited by official censorship that restricts critical reporting and by the high level of violence against journalists. The armed forces, the judiciary, and religion are topics that frequently attract the government's attention.

As a Muslim-majority country. Pakistan has several pro-Muslim laws in its Constitution, banning any media perceived to have anti-Islamic themes or having obscene content.

Freedom House ranked Pakistan 134th out of 196 countries in its 2010 Freedom of the Press Survey. Pakistan's score was 61 on a scale from 1 (most free) to 100 (least free), which earned a status of "not free".

Reporters Without Borders put Pakistan 145 out of the 180 countries ranked in its 2020 Press Freedom Index. A previous report by RSF in 2010 named Pakistan as one of "ten countries where it is not good to be a journalist". It said: "... in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Mexico, countries either openly at war or in a civil war or some other kind of internal conflict, we see a situation of permanent chaos and a culture of violence and impunity taking root in which the press has become a favorite target. These are among the most dangerous countries in the world, and the belligerents there pick directly on reporters ...."

And the "Close-up on Asia" section of the same report, goes on to say: "In Afghanistan (147th) and in Pakistan (151st), Islamist groups bear much of the responsibility for their country's pitifully low ranking. Suicide bombings and abductions make working as a journalist an increasingly dangerous occupation in this area of South Asia. And the State has not slackened its arrests of investigative journalists, which sometimes more closely resemble kidnappings."

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) regulates and issues channel licences for establishment of the mass media culture, print and electronic media and under the Article 19: Chapter I of the Constitution of Pakistan, it has jurisdiction to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of the religion, the integrity, national security of Pakistan. Newspapers, television, and radio are regulated by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which occasionally halts broadcasts and closes media outlets. Publication or broadcast of "anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organs of the state," as well as any broadcasts deemed to be "false or baseless" can bring jail terms of up to three years, fines of up to Rs. 10,000,000 (US$55,000), and license cancellation. The Blasphemy law can bring fines and prison sentences of up to three years, while defiling the Quran requires imprisonment for life, and defaming Muhammad requires a death sentence.

Authorities sometimes exert control over media content through unofficial "guidance" to newspaper editors on placement of stories or topics than may be covered. It is not unheard of to pay for favorable press coverage, a practice that is exacerbated by the low salary levels of many journalists.

The government continues to restrict and censor some published material.

The Pakistani government does not recognise the sovereignty of Israel, which means anything made in Israel is banned in Pakistan.

Book censorship[]

Foreign books need to pass government censors before being reprinted. Books and magazines can be imported freely, but are subject to censorship for objectionable sexual or religious content. Obscene literature, a category the government defines broadly, is subject to seizure.

  • Satyarth Prakash - this religious text by Swami Dayananda was banned in some princely states is banned in Sindh (a region of Pakistan) since 1944.
  • Rangila Rasul - this religious book written by Pandit M. A. Chamupati about the sexual life and marriages of the prophet Muhammad is currently banned in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
  • Jinnah of Pakistan - this biographical book about Mohammad Ali Jinnah (first president of Pakistan) was banned in 1984 by the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq's government because of some 'offending passages'. Ban lifted in 1989 by the next democratic government led by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
  • The Satanic Verses - this novel by Salman Rushdie was banned for blasphemy against Islam.
  • The Truth About Muhammad - banned for its criticism of Islam.


Film censorship[]

Showing Indian films in Pakistan was banned starting with the 1965 war between the two countries until 2008 when the ban was partially lifted.

  • The Blood of Hussain - this film was banned after General Zia-ul-Haq seized power in 1977 with a coup d'état (which overthrew President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto), as it portrays a military coup in an unfavourable light.
  • The Da Vinci Code - Banned due to protest by the Christian community in Pakistan.
  • Lahore - Banned as the censor board objected to some dialogues and scenes of the film
  • Tere Bin Laden - Banned fearing that the title could be misconstrued by Islaist extremists as reason for attack
  • Slackistan - Banned due to the director refusing to make cuts requested by the Central Board of Film Censors
  • The Dirty Picture - this movie was banned by authorities. However, it was later cleared for release only a week after the Indian premiere.
  • Delhi Belly - this film was not allowed to be screened by the censor board.
  • Khiladi 786 - this film although was renamed as Khiladi for release, its promos and ads were banned in the country.
  • Ek Tha Tiger - this film was banned because the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistan secret services) agent role was depicted by Katrina Kaif's character.
  • Agent Vinod - this film was banned as it was against ISI spy agency.
  • Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - this film about the life of Indian Olympic runner Milkha Singh was banned for depicting Pakistan Sports Authorities using unfair means and for depicting Pakistan in a wrong way.
  • Raanjhanaa - This film was banned for portraying an image of a Muslim girl (played by Sonam Kapoor) falling in love with a Hindu man and having an affair with him.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation: This film was banned for depicting Pakistan as an unstable state and the fictitional portrayal of a "foreign invasion of Pakistan's nuclear installations".
  • Children of War - This film was banned for portraying the 1971 Bengal War (which resulted in Bangladesh's independence) contrary to Pakistan's view.
  • Haider - This film was banned for depicting Kashmir insurgency, which is a sensitive issue in the country.
  • Noah (2014) - This film was banned by portraying Noah (which the Islamic teachings considers a prophet, which in Islam depicting one would be considered as idolatry, which said religion condemns) by an Actor.
  • Calendar Girls - This film was banned by Pakistan due to objection in a dialogue in the film.
  • Phantom - This film, which deals with the 26/11 attacks based on Hussain Zaidi's Mumbai Avengers, was demanded to be banned by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Lahore High Court banned said film on 20 August 2015 as federal government wanted petition by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to be dismissed due to its uselessness and the government did not want to be involved unnecessarily as no one in the country asked for NOC to screen the film. Lahore High Courte judge Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan asked the government that what it could do to stop the movie CDs from being sold in the market after the ban.
  • Baby - This Bollywood film based on terrorism was banned in Pakistan.
  • Bangistan - This film about two suicide bombers was banned by the Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors.
  • Dishoom - This film was banned because of its plot about an Indian cricket player getting kidnapped before a India vs Pakistan match, which could cause the country to think it is against Pakistan.
  • Udta Punjab - This film was banned due to use of abusive language.
  • Shivaay - This film was banned due to the India-Pakistan border conflict.
  • Ae Dil Hai Mushkil - this film was banned due to the India-Pakistan border conflict.
  • Maalik - This political thriller film was the first film to be banned in Pakistan by the federal government , on 27 April 2016, after being cleared with Universal rating by all three Censor Boards and running in cinemas for 18 days . The reason of the ban was that it endangered democracy. However, the ban was later lifted and the film was re-released on limited screenings in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad.
  • Neerja - This film was banned for allegedly showing Pakistan in bad light, which was denied by Sonam Kapoor, who portrays slain flight attendant Neerja Bhanot in the film.
  • Ambarsariya - this film was banned in Pakistan due to references to Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing in the movie.
  • Viceroy's House - this film was banned for misrepresenting Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Founding father and first President of Pakistan.
  • Tubelight - This film was banned in order to prevent hamper of the release of local films.
  • Tiger Zinda Hai - This film was banned for showing that Indians and Pakistanis are doing a combined work that is not allowed in Pakistan.
  • Dangal - This film was banned when actor-producer Aamir Khan refused Pakistan Censor Board's demand that the scenes with the Flag of India and the Indian National Anthem be removed.
  • Naam Shabana - This film was banned for portraying Pakistan "in bad taste".
  • Jolly LLB 2 - banned because of references to the Kashmir issue.
  • Raees - banned due to "objectionable" content, as it "undermines Island and a specific religious sect, (It also) portrays some Muslims as criminals, wanted persons and terrorists".
  • Pad Man - banned due to its "taboo" subject such as menstruation, which is haram (forbidden) in Islam.
  • Pari - banned for promoting black magic and for hurting Islamic values.
  • Raazi - banned for showing an intelligence agent spying Pakistan for India.
  • Gold - Banned for fears regarding the depiction of the 1947 partition.
  • Veere di Wedding - Banned for depicting obscenity and vulgar dialogues by female characters.
  • Mulk - Banned for showing an Indian Muslim family accused of treason and ties with the Pakistanis.
  • Aiyaary - Banned for portraying Pakistan in a bad light.
  • Race 3 - Banned in order that four big banner Pakistani films and other smaller regional language (such as Sindhi and Punjabi) on Eid-al Fitr (the end of Ramadan) could do good business without competition from Bollywood films.
  • Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran - Banned for referencing Pakistan's nuclear tests and facilities

Since February 2019, all Indian films were banned from screening by Pakistan in retaliation to the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian government pertaining to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Internet censorship[]

Internet users in Pakistan are prompted to this message when accessing blocked websites.

The OpenNet Initiative listed Internet filtering in Pakistan as substantial in the social and conflict/security areas, as selective in the Internet tools area, and as suspected in the political area in December 2010.

In 2019, The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecom was informed by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) that 900,000 URLs were blocked in Pakistan for "reasons such as carrying blasphemous and pornographic content and/or sentiments against the state, judiciary or the armed forces."

In late 2010 Pakistanis enjoyed unimpeded access to most sexual, political, social, and religious content on the Internet. Although the Pakistani government does not employ a sophisticated blocking system, a limitation which has led to collateral blocks on entire domains such as Blogspot.com and YouTube.com, it continues to block Web sites containing content it considers to be blasphemous, anti-Islamic, or threatening to internal security. Pakistan has blocked access to websites critical of the government. In early March 2006, the government temporarily had all websites hosted at the popular blogging service Blogger.com blocked.

Millions of websites from all over the world are hosted at blogspot, along with thousands of Pakistani ones. This step by the government is possibly due to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, as some blogspot websites put up copies of the cartoons.

In 2022, the Pakistani government will propose to criminalise questions related to the sovereign territorial integrity of the frontiers of Pakistan in a manner that is, or should likely to be, prejudicial to the interests of the safety or security concerns of Pakistanis. Pakistan’s PTI government will require that all maps in publications circulated in Pakistan reflect the traditional claim to the entire region of IIOJK, which is disputed and contested by Islamabad, and regardless of the line of control respectively. Pakistan's government has maintained its territorial claim on Junagadh, along with Manavadar and Sir Creek in Gujarat, on its official political map issued on 4 August 2020. According to the Surveying and Mapping Act.

Blocked websites[]

  • YouTube and Twitter were blocked on occasions, first for "blasphemous material", later for unknown reasons. YouTube video sharing is banned, with the youtu.be domain, used to share YouTube content, is banned, in a bid to stop sharing viral videos.
  • Flickr and Wikipedia were briefly and partially blocked on May 2010 for "blasphemous material".
  • Omegle and 9gag were blocked on November 2021 for reasons unknown.
  • Rabwah Times is blocked since 29 May 2014 for "blasphemous material".
  • WordPress was blocked on 22 March 2015 for reasons of "national security".
  • Quora was blocked from 17 September 2019 to 24 September 2019 for unknown reasons.
  • Some subreddits of Reddit are blocked for pornography
  • Imgur was blocked between 3 January 2020 and 23 December 2020 for pornography
  • Ibb/Imgbb was blocked until 23 December 2020 for unknown reasons.
  • TikTok was blocked between 9 October 2020 and 20 October 2020 for "immoral content"
  • DeviantArt is blocked since 1 January 2021 for pornography
  • Facebook, Whatsapp and Telegram were blocked between the 11:00 (PKT) and the 15:00 (PKT) on 16 April 2021 for undisclosed reasons,
  • FanFiction.Net and Wattpad.com were blocked since 11 February 2022 for unknown reasons
  • Richard Dawkins' website and IMDb were blocked briefly in 2013.
  • Xbox Live and GameRanger were blocked accidentally on 7 February 2013 by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
  • An extreme form of word censorship is effective on all websites' URL. URLs containing words such as sex and porn are blocked, including pages on medical information sites like WebMD, MedicineNet about sexual health and couples therapy, similar to the word censorship in effect for SMS and text messages.

Until September 2011, Internet pornography was accessible and pornography was widely accessed with no policy towards censorship. Men often visited Internet cafes to pay for and watch pornography. However, in November 2011, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority's (PTA) decided to start blocking pornographic websites.

In September 2011, a hacker claiming to be from Pakistan defaced the official website of the Supreme Court of Pakistan as a means to raise attention and call on the Chief Justice to permanently ban and block access to pornographic content on the Internet in the country. In October 2011, the website of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was also defaced by the same hacker, with similar demands where the hacker demanded a blanket ban on all websites containing explicit material.

In November 2011, the PTA announced that it was in the process of banning the 1,000 most-frequented pornographic websites in Pakistan. The measure was taken to curb pornography. A report in 2012 said that, with many porn websites banned in the country, a few people were turning to purchasing pornographic DVDs in places such as Karachi's Rainbow Centre, which has long been the largest hub of video piracy and CD distribution in Pakistan.

Television censorship[]

As with newspapers and radio, television is regulated by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which occasionally halts broadcasts and closes media outlets.

While some journalists practice self-censorship, a wide range of privately owned daily and weekly newspapers and magazines provide diverse and critical coverage of national affairs. The government controls the Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan, the only free-to-air broadcast outlets with a national reach, and predictably coverage supports official viewpoints. Private radio stations operate in some major cities, but are prohibited from broadcasting news programming. At least 25 private all-news cable and satellite television channels—such as Geo, ARY, Aaj, and Dawn, some of which broadcast from outside the country—provide domestic news coverage, commentary, and call-in talk shows. International television and radio broadcasts are usually available, with the important exception of a complete blockade of Indian television news channels.

On 22 April 2007, the private television channel AaJ TVwas threatened with closure by PEMRA for airing news, talk shows, and other programs that discussed the then current judicial crisis. PEMRA warned all private TV channels not to air programs casting aspersions on the judiciary or on the "integrity of the armed forces of Pakistan", as well as content which would encourage and incite violence, contained anything against the maintenance of law and order, or which promoted anti-national or anti-state attitudes.

During March 2009 demonstrations demanding the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, authorities temporarily shut down the cable service of Geo TV and Aaj TV in cities around the country.

In October 2009 four television news channels were blocked for several hours in the wake of a terrorist attack on the army headquarters in October 2009.

In 2009 conditions for reporters covering the ongoing conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) were particularly difficult, as correspondents were detained, threatened, expelled, or otherwise prevented from working, either by the Taliban and local tribal groups or by the army and intelligence services. Following the takeover of the Swat Valley by Islamic militants, cable television broadcasting was banned. During two major military offensives during the year—against Taliban-affiliated militants in the Swat Valley in April and the South Waziristan tribal area in October—reporters faced bans on access, pressure to report favorably on the offensives, and dozens of local journalists were forced to flee the area.

In August 2009, the Daily Asaap, Balochistan's widely circulated Urdu-language newspaper, suspended publication, citing harassment from the security forces. Two other newspapers in Balochistan, Daily Balochistan Express and Daily Azadi, also reported harassment by security forces.

In October 2009, PEMRA directed 15 FM radio stations to stop carrying British Broadcasting Corporation programs for "violation of the terms and conditions of their license".

In 2010 journalists were killed and subjected to physical attack, harassment, intimidation, and other forms of pressure, including:

On 7 July, the Taliban threw a grenade at the home of Din News television reporter Imran Khan in Bajaur, FATA, injuring eight members of his family. He and his sister had been hospitalized earlier for injuries sustained in a kidnapping attempt.

On 22 July, Sarfraz Wistro, the chief reporter of the Daily Ibrat newspaper, was attacked and beaten unconscious by five men near his home in Hyderabad, Sindh.

On 4 September, Umar Cheema—the senior member of the investigation cell of a leading media group, The News—was abducted and taken to an unknown location, where he was blindfolded and beaten, had his hair shaved off his head, and was hung upside down and tortured. His abductors threatened more torture if "he didn't mend his ways" and told him the editor of investigations, Ansar Abbassi, would be next. He was dropped outside of Islamabad six hours later. Cheema went public with the abuse, and The News covered his abduction in detail in print, as did television channels. Police filed a case immediately against the accused, the government formed a joint investigation team to probe the incident, and the Lahore High Court took notice of the case. As of year's end, and after nearly four months of investigation, the team had not issued any conclusive findings.

On 14 September, journalist Misri Khan was killed in Hangu District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, by militants from the TTP, who claimed that "he twisted facts whenever we gave him any reports" and "leaned towards the army."

On 16 September, journalist Mujeebur Rehman Saddiqui, a Daily Pakistan correspondent, was killed by gunmen in Dargai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On 18 November, the body of journalist Lala Hameed Baloch, who had been kidnapped in late October, was found along with the body of a second journalist, Hameed Ismail, with gunshot wounds outside of Turbat, Balochistan Province. Baloch's family, local journalists, and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists believed that he was seized by security officials and targeted for his political activism.

In October 2019, the People National Alliance organised a rally to free Kashmir from Pakistani rule. As a result of the police trying to stop the rally, 100 people were injured.

Censored TV shows[]

  • Taar-e-Ankaboot - This series was taken off air as it touched on many taboo and bold subjects such as prostitution, sexuality and black magic.

Video game censorship[]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was banned for showing the country in a negative light.
  • Postal 2 was banned because of violence against Muslims who are portrayed as terrorists.
  • Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni was banned because of sexual content and glorifying homosexuality (which is illegal in Islam).
  • Negligee: Love Stories was also banned for sexual content and glorifying homosexuality.

However, the above cited games' digital versions are not affected by the bans.

  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - In July 2020, this online game was banned by the PTA. Many social media activists such as Waqar Zaka uploaded videos on YouTube urging Pakistanis to speak up against this ban. Millions of social media users of Pakistan have flooded sites like Facebook, Twitter and have shown overwhelming support for PUBG (PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds). In response, PTA lifted the ban on this popular online game.

External links[]

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