26/11 mastermind asks for ban on 'Phantom' film, Pakistan obliges

Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the man behind the devastating terror attack in Mumbai, had petitioned the court to ban the Kabir Khan-directed film Phantom on the basis that it maligns Pakistan and vilifies Saeed and his organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa

Lahore: A Pakistani court yesterday banned the release of Bollywood movie Phantom in the country on a plea filed by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed against it alleging that the film, set on post-26/11 attacks, contains “filthy propaganda” against him and his outfit.

In the petition filed in the High Court on August 8, Hafiz Saeed’s advocate alleged that there is a direct threat to the life of Saeed and his associates from the content of the trailer of the film. PIC/PTI
In the petition filed in the High Court on August 8, Hafiz Saeed’s advocate alleged that there is a direct threat to the life of Saeed and his associates from the content of the trailer of the film. Pic/PTI

Lahore High Court
judge Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan issued the order to ban the release of the Saif Ali Khan-starrer film in the theaters in Pakistan after hearing the arguments of Saeed’s counsel and the government law officer. Before issuing a short-order on the film, which was scheduled to release on August 28, the judge observed that Indian and other movies are easily available after their release and asked the government what it could do to stop it from being available in the market if a movie is banned. “If a movie is banned in cinemas what the government could do to stop it from being available in the market in CDs”, the judge asked.

Threat to life
In the petition filed in the High Court on August 8, Saeed’s advocate A K Dogar alleged that “there is a direct threat to the life of the petitioner (Saeed) and his associates emanating from the content of the trailer of the film.” “It is obvious that dialogues coming out of the lips of the different Indian actors and actresses will poison the minds of Pakistani public and will portray Hafiz Saeed as terrorist even though JuD has not been declared as a proscribed organisation,” Dogar said.

No NOC filed
Arguing in the court, the government law officer said that since no one had sought No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the government for the release of the movie in Pakistan the petition was “useless” and should be dismissed.

“The petitioner is unnecessarily trying to involve the government,” he said. Based on crime author S Hussain Zaidi’s novel Mumbai Avengers, Phantom is set in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and deals with global terrorism.

The Pakistan censor board had yet not cleared the film for screening in the country.

Since the government allowed exhibition of Indian films in Pakistan, the Censor Board has been careful about not allowing screening of Indian films, which deal with the subject of Pakistan, terrorism and ISI.

Most-wanted terrorist filing plea to ban movie is amusing, says Kabir Khan
Director Kabir Khan finds it “amusing” that Hafiz Saeed sought a ban on the release of his movie Phantom in Pakistan.
“The person who in our perspective is one of the most wanted terrorists is filing a petition to ban my movie, was amusing for me,” said Khan. “They have gone ahead and done this before seeing the film,” the director said. “There are some truths about the involvement of LeT in 26/11 attacks. Since it operates from Pakistan so this could have created an uncomfortable situation that’s why they have done this,” he said.

Life of a terrorist

LeT is banned in Pakistan but tolerated unofficially. Saeed has long abandoned its leadership and is now the head of its charity wing, JuD. India says it has handed over evidence against him to Pakistan, which should have detained him. The issue has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours. He lives freely in Lahore in a villa with police stationed outside.

‘Ban’wagon
In the past, Saif Ali Khan’s Agent Vinod and Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger were also banned from being screened in cinema halls in the country, although they are freely available on CDs and DVDs in Pakistan.

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