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Pakistan may resume import of Indian films

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Distributors are hoping to get the permission before ‘Raees’, starring Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted a committee to consider a request by distributors to resume the import of Bollywood films.

Distributors are hoping to get the permission before Raees, starring Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan and Pakistani actor Maira Khan, releases on January 25.

The committee formed by Mr. Sharif is headed by Minister of State for Information Maryum Aurangzeb. It includes the Secretary of Commerce, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National History and Literary Heritage and a representative of ISI.

Cinema hall owners had suspended the screening of Bollywood films in Pakistan’s theatres in October last year following escalation of tensions along the Line of Control.

Indian films are in the list of banned items in Pakistan. But the Commerce Ministry, under para-19 of the import policy order, had issued no-objection certificates (NOCs) at the request of the Information Ministry for import of Indian films since 2006. The Information Ministry, in consultation with the Commerce Ministry, followed a procedure to allow the import of two or three Indian films per month through NOCs.

Following the Uri attack, Pakistani actors were threatened in India and unofficially barred from working in Bollywood films. This was followed by a ban by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority on Indian TV channels and entertainment programs aired in Pakistan and cinema hall owners deciding not to screen Bollywood films.

Nadeem Mandviwalla, a leading cinema hall owner, told Media that it was time for resumption of screening Indian movies in Pakistan. Sources said business in cinema halls in Pakistan had plummeted after the unofficial ban on Indian movies and revenues had fallen by as much as 75 per cent in some theatres. Around 50 per cent of workers in halls had to lose their jobs. Bollywood films are widely available on pirated DVDs in Pakistan.

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