“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 9 of the motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979, the federal Government is pleased to declare Urdu feature “Maalik” in respect of which a Censor Certificate No.54/M-I/2016 has earlier been granted, as uncertified film in the whole of Pakistan with immediate effect,” said a notification from the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.

The notification, issued by the Ministry’s Information and Broadcasting division and signed by Deputy Secretary Muhammad Rafiq, did not state any reason for the ban.

The development comes a day after the Sindh government objected to the screening of the film, with the Sindh Censor Board on Tuesday temporarily placing a ban on its screening in the province only to remove the restriction hours later.

Directed by Ashir Azeem, the writer of the popular 1994 PTV thriller Dhuwan, ‘Maalik’ received support as well as opposition from critics and audiences for its overwhelming and controversial way of advocating patriotism and social justice.

The movie depicts the take of the producer/director on the issues he identifies as being the core of the problems of Pakistan, including rampant corruption and injustice in every cog of the civilian government system, the civilian law-enforcement agencies, the judicial system, and all tiers of political leadership from the bottom right up to the top.

The movie’s controversial regional focus on Sindh rather than a general scenario and its depiction as an absolute cesspool of corruption, injustice and exploitation drew divided views from audiences upon its screening.

Critics said that the character of an extortionist, murderer and rapist chief minister in the movie appeared to have been rather blatantly associated with a real world political party, with one scene clearly showing the photo of the party’s former leader hung on a wall in his home.

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