A day after JuD (Jamaat-ud-Dawa) chief and alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed pleaded a ban on the release of Kabir Khan's Phantom, a Pakistani court has issued notices to the federal and Punjab government as well as the censor board asking them to reply to the petition.
Lahore high court Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan heard the petition and asked the Pakistan censor board and the federal and Punjab governments to furnish a reply on Saeed's petition on August 13. During the hearing, Hafiz Saeed's counsel AK Dogar requested the court to issue a stay order but the judge refused. "It is necessary to hear the respondents first," the judge observed.
26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed is the founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, which carried out the audacious 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. (File Photo)
Dogar also told the court that "there is a direct threat to the life of the petitioner (Saeed) and his associates emanating from the content of the trailer of Phantom." He said the grievance of the petitioner is that Phantom has been advertised to be exhibited in Pakistan. "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.
A poster of Phantom.
"The United Nations has also admitted that the JuD is a charitable organisation and is working not only in Pakistan but also outside the country," he argued in the court. Dogar said the movie is scheduled to be exhibited in India and Pakistan on August 28. "The government should be restrained from allowing exhibition of this movie in Pakistan," he said. The petitioner said the Indian film has "venom against Pakistan and JuD."
"The film is about the 2008 Mumbai attack and global terrorism implicating the JuD. Filthy propaganda has been done in the film against Pakistan under the subject of the world terrorism," Saeed has alleged in his plea. The founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba claimed that the courts in Pakistan had already rejected the accusation of the Indian government about involvement of the JuD or any of its leaders in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. "I pray to the court to ban the exhibition of Phantom in Pakistan for its anti-Pakistan content," said Saeed on whom the US has placed a bounty of USD 10 million.
Based on crime author Hussain Zaidi's novel Mumbai Avengers, Phantom is set in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and deals with global terrorism. So far the Pakistan censor board has 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.
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.
Read: Bollywood films that were banned in Pakistan
Read: JuD chief Hafiz Saeed wants a ban on Phantom in Pakistan
Read: Saif, Katrina take revenge for 26/11 in Phantom trailer