LAHORE: Five federal ministries including Special Initiatives, Zakat and Ushr, Population Welfare, Local Government and Rural Development and Youth Affairs, have been devolved in the wake of the 18th Amendment.
The screening and censorship of films has also become a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, but it is still unclear as to how the provincial censor boards will deal with these subjects.
The amendment states that if a federal ministry or institution is devolved and the powers are transferred to the provinces, then each province can carry out legislation as per its provincial needs. This means it is possible for Sindh to ban an Indian film but for Punjab is allowed to release the very same film in cinemas.
Farah Deeba, who is a member of the Culture and Youth Affairs Committee and Punjab Assembly, told The Express Tribune in September that the issue would be taken up with the authorities concerned soon. However, two sessions of the assembly have taken place and the issue is yet to be discussed by the authorities.
Currently, the Central Board of Film Censors deals with the screening and censoring of the films and a film that is cleared by the censor board can be released across the country. After the establishment of provincial censor boards, it is very possible that a certain film might be allowed to screen in a particular province but other provinces may not permit the film to be shown.
People associated with the film industry believe that the concerned authorities need to start working out the issue and explain the situation as the entire process has to be completed and put in place by May 2011. They say that currently no government body has approached them or taken them into confidence about how the provincial censor boards would work. Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association Chairman Zoraiz Lashari told The Express Tribune that so far no government representative had approached the association about the situation. “I have heard that production and exhibiting films has become a provincial subject after the passage of 18th Amendment, however I am not sure as to how the provincial censor boards would be established and how they would function,” he said.
An official in the ministry of culture who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the ministry was likely to be dissolved in the second phase of devolution. He said, “The Censor Board works independently however it still has to inform the provincial governments as to how its powers would be delegated to the provinces.”
Central Board of Film Censors Chairman Malik Shahnawaz Noon could not be reached for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2010.
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