A blanket ban on Indian content in Pakistani media came into effect Friday, a Pakistani regulator said, as tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours about the disputed region of Kashmir showed no signs of abating.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said it had ordered television channels and radio stations to stop airing Indian movies and shows.
“We will cancel licences if the ban is violated,” PEMRA spokesman Mohamed Tahir told dpa as political tensions infringed the cultural ties between the South Asian nations.
The move comes after Pakistani actors were barred from performing in Indian Bollywood movies following a deadly September 18 attack by militants on an Indian army base in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir, which is divided between the two countries.
New Delhi blamed the assault on a jihadist group allegedly operating from Pakistan. Islamabad denied the charge.
“We will not let any TV channel or radio stations air Indian content anymore,” added Tahir.
“We will monitor it digitally and our inspectors will raid the cable service providers to make sure there is no violation.”
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup called the ban an unfortunate development and said New Delhi had not officially banned Pakistani actors, but would stop them “due to security concerns.”
Indian and Pakistani entertainment channels have been showing television shows from each other’s countries in recent years. The cross-border content has been extremely popular.
PEMRA has also banned the screening of Bollywood movies in Pakistani theatres despite the fact Indian films are watched by millions of people and some megastars such as Shah Rukh Khan are household names.
Hamza Khan, a 21-year-old university student from the capital Islamabad, said he and his family were disappointed they could not watch their favourite movies and shows any more.
“It is like something has gone missing in my life,” Khan said.
However, with cheap DVDS still available and people in most Pakistani cities still able to watch some content online, it is unclear what the ban will achieve. NAN