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.