The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has called off protests scheduled for Wednesday as the federal government announced it would approach the Council of Islamic Ideology for its views over the now-controversial film, Zindagi Tamasha.
The Central Board of Film Censors also notified the filmmakers not to release the film and decided to approach the Council of Islamic Ideology to deliberate over the matter, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan tweeted.
The decision by the board comes even as the director, Sarmad Khoosat, has repeatedly insisted that "upon completion, the film was cleared by all three censor boards of Pakistan and had its world premiere at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival."
Earlier on Tuesday, the Sindh and Punjab governments had moved to block the film's release in the respective provinces.
Hours after the notifications were reported, a pamphlet attributed to the TLP’s publications wing, announced the party's decision to defer the protests in light of the government’s move to stop the film’s release.
According to Tuesday's notice by the Sindh Board of Film Censors (SBFC), the decision was taken in view of the potential for the film to create "unrest".
"If the film is released for public exhibition, it may create unrest within the religious segment of the society and may deteriorate and be detrimental to the peaceful circumstances in the country," read the SBFC notice.
The board has advised all cinema exhibitors and distributors to avoid the film's exhibition "till further decision" by it.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government's information department also notified today the director Sarmat Khoosat that his film will be re-examined "in the wake of persistent complaints received from different quarters".
In the notice, Khoosat has been requested to arrange a show in this regard "in any cinema house" on February 3 at 3pm, so it may be reviewed.
The director has also been instructed not to release the film "till final decision of the committee". Additionally, he has been asked to ensure the presence of a representative "for personal hearing, if required by the committee".
Khoosat Films files petition against TLP
Earlier today, a Lahore civil court heard a petition filed by Director of Khoosat Films Private Limited, Irfan Ali Khoosat, against the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) for "trying to interfere into the smooth running, public screening/releasing" of the movie Zindagi Tamasha.
In the petition, Irfan urged the court to "[restrain] the defendant permanently from interfering into the peaceful releasing/public screening of above-named film on big screen/cinema in all over Pakistan illegally, unlawfully".
The petition says that by releasing Zindagi Tamasha, Khoosat Films aimed to "bring the soft image of the society among the public at large, to reduce the stress from the minds of peoples (sic) of the country and to promote the positivity in the society". It further points out that the movie had been cleared for release by all censor boards in the country.
"The defendant (TLP) who has no concern whatsoever with the above-said film is trying to interfere into the smooth running public screening/releasing of the above-mentioned film in cinema screen all around the country without any lawful justification," the petition read.
The petition has named Sindh Film Censor Board, Punjab Film Censor Board and Markazi Film Censor Board as respondents. It has been clarified, however, that the censor boards were "mere [proforma] defendants and the plaintiff has not claim (sic) any relief against them".
Judge Ziaur Rehman, while accepting the petition, issued notices to all respondents to appear before the court tomorrow to present their arguments.
Last week, the filmmaker had addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming — without taking names — that there were attempts to stop his film from releasing despite it being cleared by the central censor board.
On Sunday, he posted another open letter, this time addressed to "my beloved Pakistan and Pakistanis", questioning whether he should withdraw Zindagi Tamasha or not. He clarified in his letters that the film did not contain any objectionable content and had already been cleared by the censor boards.