The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.
Reports that Pakistan has lifted the ban on screening of Indian films in the country have finally got an official seal from the Pakistani premier on January 31.
According to a report published in The Express Tribune, Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif has lifted the ban on screening of Indian films in Pakistan. The report has published a gazette notification from Pakistan’s Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, dated January 31, 2017, that says “the Federal Government (of Pakistan) is pleased to continue the existing policy to display all international movies (including Indian films) in Pakistani cinema and is pleaded to take decisions for revival of the Pakistani film industry”.
The Express Tribune report further says that once the ‘new import order of Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce for foreign movies’ is adopted, the changes will be implemented and if the formalities are completed in time, Kaabil can be released on February 3 and Raees on February 10 in Pakistan.
After the Uri attack in September 2016, Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPAA) had banned Pakistani artists and many Pakistani stars including Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan had to return to their countries. The Indian surgical strike in September end had further heightened the tension. In retaliation to the IMPAA’s move, Pakistani theatre owners had suspended screening of Indian movies. Also, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had put a blanket ban on Indian content on October 21.
Later on there were reports that the Pakistan’s government had banned Indian films, music and television programmes in the country but Pakistan never issued an official announcement about it. In fact, just two days ago, Pakistan’s MoS for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb issued a clarification that the Pakistani government never banned Indian films in the country and it was a self-imposed ban from the theatre owners. According to the news reports in the Pakistani media, she was quoted saying ‘that Pakistan had decided to maintain the present policy regarding import of Indian cinematograph films so that Pakistani cinema trade can derive benefit from exhibition of Indian films’.
The ban on Indian films had badly hurt the business interests of Pakistani cinema owners. According to estimates, 60-75% box office earnings in Pakistan come from exhibiting Indian films and cinema owners were bleeding with losses running in millions per day and they were desperate to come out of this so-called self-imposed business exile.