Movie distributors and TV stations in Pakistan won't be screening the Oscar-nominated US drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden to avoid offending local sensibilities and provoke outrage in the conservative country.
The unofficial censorship has also prompted by local cable distributors blocking the screening of the hit US dramas "Homeland" and "Last Resort", on the grounds they are against the national interest, AFP reported.
"We have not and neither has anyone else bought Zero Dark Thirty," a representative for film distribution company Cinepax, Mohsin Yaseen, was quoted as saying. "It has several scenes which could make us feel humiliated. It is against the interests of the Pakistani nation," he told AFP.
Last year, on 29 December, Pakistan lifted its YouTube ban to bring it back only three minutes later, after what was officially deemed as "blasphemous content" turned out to be still accessible. The ban was originally imposed in September, in response to YouTube's screening of The Innocence of Muslims anti-Islamic video.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has banned access to YouTube a number of times, as well as prohibiting access to Facebook and limiting access to Wikipedia.
While "Zero Dark Thirty" has scooped five Oscar nominations in America, in Pakistan the operation to kill bin Laden is perceived as one of the darkest pages in the country's history.
US Navy SEALS killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan on May 4, 2011. Pakistan considered that attack a “violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
The company which has the rights in Pakistan to cable channel Star World, Max Media, has also reportedly refused to transmit "Homeland" and the military drama "Last Resort".
"We strongly believe that programmes such as 'Homeland' and 'Last Resort' are against our national interest, cultural values and ideology," an official at Max Media who did not want to be named, told AFP, adding that "a vague reference about Islam can ignite violence in Pakistan".
With pirated DVDs in abundance in Pakistan, "Zero Dark Thirty", "Homeland" and "Last Resort" are said to be among the best-selling titles.