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Pakistan court imposes restrictions on screening of Indian movies

Justice Khalid Mahmood of the Lahore High Court issued the interim order in response to a petition filed by controversial TV talk show host Mubshir Lucman, a former film producer known for his anti-India stance.

Lucman claimed that under Pakistani rules, Indian movies that are shot completely in India and are sponsored by an Indian cannot be screened in the country. He alleged "fake papers" were being used to change the identity of sponsors to screen Indian films in Pakistan. He also produced a court order to back up his arguments.

The court directed authorities not to allow the screening of films that are imported using "fake" documents and are not sponsored by a Pakistani or foreign national.

The judge also directed the Film Censor Board and Board of Revenue to respond to the petition at the next hearing on November 25.

The court's order came days after Pakistan's electronic media regulator slapped fines worth Rs 10 million on 10 entertainment channels for airing excessive Indian and foreign content, including films and serials.

Indian movies have largely fuelled a boom in the Pakistani box office after former military ruler Pervez Musharraf eased restrictions on their import in 2006.

The screening of Indian movies was banned by Pakistan after the 1965 war but pirated copies of the films were widely available across the country.

Bollywood movies, which are released almost simultaneously in Pakistan, have brought people back to cinemas and led to the construction of new cineplexes in cities like Islamabad and Lahore.

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