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Yet Another Ban: Pakistanis Can No Longer Enjoy Zee5

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday directed all banks to no longer accept online payment for Indian streaming platforms including the popular Zee5. Five original Pakistani series were to be broadcast on Zee5, which the audience in Pakistan won’t be able to watch anymore. The notice that issued this order specifically mentioned Zee5 which premiered the show ‘Churails’ which was criticised by some quarters for ‘indecent’ content.

The notice read:
“We are in receipt of a letter from the Cabinet Division, Government of Pakistan; whereby, they’ve instructed to stop different modes of payments, such as credit cards for subscribing Indian content in Pakistan, including Zee5 video-on-demand service. In this regard, it is advised to ensure meticulous compliance of aforementioned instructions of the government of Pakistan and submit compliance status to PSD, SBP by November 13.”

People on twitter have termed this ban as a curb on freedom of expression. They argue that due to strict censorship in the country, the local shows can’t talk about certain topics. The steaming platforms were a new way for artists to tell meaningful stories but this ban has taken away that opportunity too. This ban clearly shows that rising progressive narratives in Pakistani entertainment industry that were prevalent in shows like Churials were perhaps too bold for a conservative society.

In response to this notice, director Asim Abbasi tweeted a verse from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhein Ge’.

 

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