Film censorship: GI Joe sequel banned in Pakistan

Hollywood film depicts Pakistani president’s assassination.

Sher Khan March 30, 2013
Pakistan censor board bans GI Joe: Retaliation. PHOTO: FILE


The latest installment of the Hollywood film franchise GI Joe, has been banned in Pakistan for its negative portrayal of the country, according to officials of the Central Board of Film Censors.

Officials within the censor board said there was no chance that the sequel, titled GI Joe: Retaliation would make through censors.

The film starts off with an American special security team recovering lost nuclear warheads in Pakistan, where it is attacked and framed for stealing nuclear undertones; it stars actors Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, and Channing Tatum. The story also depicts Pakistan as an unstable country in which terrorists are on the verge of stealing the country’s nuclear assets.

“I wonder how anyone thought this film would pass the censor, and this is a question one should ask the importer,” said Iftikhar Durrani, the adviser on national regulation and services.

Durrani explained that the film portrays Pakistan negatively, not just on the issue of the war on terror, but also in the context of the country’s international standing.

“There is a scene which shows the assassination of the Pakistani president and the imposition of martial law, which is not a fair representation of the country,” he added.

Mohsin Yaseen, the general manager for Cinepax and the marketing manager for Footprint Entertainment, said it was expected that the film would be banned.

“We are the representing agency for the film so we, as a policy, try and see if the film could pass censors,” explained Yaseen.

“There were obviously several objectionable things which would never have passed the censors, but these things are also relevant to the content of the film.”

Meanwhile, Atrium Cinema elaborated that the film had been banned as it showed Pakistan in a negative light. “Due to initial scenes depicting Pakistan as a failed state and fictionally portraying foreign invasion of Pakistan’s nuclear installations,” the Atrium Cinemas management posted on Facebook, to the dismay of moviegoers.

All cinemas have been directed to stop screening of any trailers of the film.

Over the years, many Bollywood and Hollywood films have been banned in Pakistan due to their negative portrayal of the country and its institutions. The most recent ones were Saif Ali Khan-starrer Agent Vinod and Zero Dark Thirty, which was based on the operation: Neptune, the pursuit and killing of Osama bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad.

Earlier, internationally acclaimed video games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Medal of Honor: Warfighter were banned for their controversial depiction of Pakistan and its intelligence agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.


nust | 8 years ago | Reply

"There is a scene which shows the assassination of the Pakistani president and the imposition of martial law, which is not a fair representation of the country." You have no idea, Sir, how much i wanna see this movie.

Aisha Azmi | 8 years ago | Reply

There was an incident when I was in grade 4 at a school in Karachi wherein one of the girls had called the other one dumb. The girl of course was offended and complained to the class teacher who in turn said that if you think you aren't dumb, then you should not be offended when being called dumb. It's a simple logic in life that one can follow. So if Pakistan does not consider itself to be a nuclear stealing nation, then it should accept the fact that its a form of entertainment, not a personal attack on its morals and values and play the film. And by the way, I'm a Pakistani, and I live in England now and I watched GI Joe and I wasn't offended for even a second. And I couldn't agree more with Ozair Mustafa, Pakistan seriously needs to get off its sensitive little bum and accept these things and show the world that we don't really care because we don't consider it to be true!

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