Psychological warfare?: Games banned for showing Pakistan as terrorist haven

Published: January 24, 2013
Animated troops shoot at terrorists. PHOTO: FILE

Animated troops shoot at terrorists. PHOTO: FILE

After shop owners complained that certain games portrayed Pakistan as an incubator for terrorism, two popular video games have been banned for sale and removed from stores across the country.

According to a Fox News report, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and “Medal of Honour: Warfighter” are two war-themed games where the player gets to shoot enemies and, according to shop owners and video-gamers, show Pakistan and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as supporting terrorist organisations, including al Qaeda.

The controversial games were removed from shelves countrywide by stores after the All Pakistan CD, DVD, Audio Cassette Traders and Manufacturers Association (APCDACTM) decided to boycott both games, the report said.

“The problem is that there are things that are against Pakistan and they have included criticism of our army. They show the country in a very poor light,” the report quoted Saleem Memon, president of the APCDACTM in Karachi, as saying.

The circular released by the association reads, “The association has always boycotted these types of films and games. These (games) have been developed against the country’s national unity and sanctity. They have been developed against Pakistan, and the association has completely banned their sale. Shopkeepers are warned and will be responsible for the consequences if found purchasing or selling these games,” the report on read.

The opening scene of the game  “Medal of Honour: Warfighter,” released in November 2012, begins with Task Force Mako, a US Navy SEAL team commissioned to sabotage an al Qaeda black market arms deal at a shipping dock in Karachi.

According to the report, the plot of the game centres the story of Pakistan as a “jihadi haven”. The game was developed with the help of seven Navy SEAL Team 6 members who were part of Operation Neptune Spear to kill the leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Ladin.

A Pakistani security official told Fox News that these games are part of psychological warfare. He said, “These games are an effort to malign the minds of youth against Pakistan.”

The security official viewed these games as American attempts to prepare Pakistanis to accept reports of it being a failed state, a place that is harbouring terrorists.

Despite the ban and widespread criticism, these games can still be found in stores.

“They are both hot sellers,” said Moeen Ali, owner of Islamabad’s largest game store. He wasn’t aware of the ban, but told Fox News that more than 5,000 copies of “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” had been sold in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2013.

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