The Central Board of Film Censors issued a notice earlier this week announcing a ban on two documentaries, Among the Believers and Besieged in Quetta
The CBFC’s notice states that Among the Believers was found by the review panel to contain “dialogues which projects (sic) the negative image of Pakistan in the context of ongoing fighting against extremism and terrorism.”
Among the Believers highlights Pakistan’s struggle to combat extremism: for example, Naqvi’s documentary points out how Abdul Aziz generates support by proving free food and services to poor families who often don’t have any one else to depend on. Naqvi says that these are the responsibilities of the government.
Besieged in Quetta, is about how the city suffers through constant violence and terrorism, and it examines closely the losses suffered by the Hazara community — something the government is criticised for being unable to effectively combat.
The documentary based on interviews of people who have lost their loved ones to terrorism in Quetta in the last 15 years. The director Asef Ali Muhammed also belongs to the Hazara community.
“These documentary films, Among the Believers and Besieged in Quetta clearly flout the Motion Picture Ordinance of 1979 and the Code of Censorship, 1980,” says Mobashir Hassan, Chairman of the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC).
The ban raises serious questions about how far the state will go in its quest to insulate itself from criticism.