Long-term economic changes wrought by violence, intimidation and the consequent hostile and uncertain climate for continuing to do business. And it’s not the first, and won’t be the last source of livelihood to be destroyed by jihad and the imposition of Sharia. “Pakistan: Taliban threat forces cinemas to close,” by Syed Saleem Shahzad for AdnKronos International, March 30:
Islamabad, 30 March (AKI) – By Syed Saleem Shahzad – The growing influence of the Taliban has forced cinemas to close in northern Pakistan despite support for the film industry from the secular provincial government in the North West Frontier Province. Many cinema owners are demolishing their theatres and replacing them with multi-storey commercial plazas.
Earlier restrictions imposed by the previous religious coalition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government on the display of the female form on cinema billboards have been lifted and cinemas are free to operate.
But most cinema owners are uncertain whether the Taliban might target their businesses or if a new government of any religious party in the future may affect their business.
So several cinema proprietors have moved to demolish their cinemas and are aiming to building multi-storey commercial plazas in and around the provincial capital, Peshawar.
The Falak Sher Cinema in Sadar Peshawar, Tasweer Mahal of Kabuli Bazaar in Peshawar , Novelty and Palwalsha cinemas in Peshawar are among the old cinemas which have been demolished in the last few years and all are being replaced by commercial buildings.
“There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s when cinema was the only entertainment in Peshawar where people used to go with family members or with friends,” Peshawar journalist Nasir Dawar told Adnkronos International (AKI).
“However, video cassette recorders and video CD players changed the dynamics. People now prefer to watch the movies at home.
“The Taliban threat was an added woe which further discouraged cinema patrons. So cinema owners chose to demolish the buildings and convert them into commercial plazas.
“Cinemas were lost money for them but now with the commercial buildings they can earn millions of rupees from the rental money,” he said.
Despite the Taliban’s growing influence and a record number of bomb blasts and suicide attacks in the commercial markets and police posts in Peshawar last year, the famous Shama cinema, owned by a powerful federal minister’s family, still shows what are considered to be pornographic English movies.
People flood the cinema every day and it does more business than a commercial market.
During the holy month of Ramadan, however, the Shama Cinema shows only Indian Bollywood movies which attract a comparatively thin crowd. During the sacred month of Muharram, the cinema is closed.
However, obscenity is not the only attraction in the cinema houses.
Well, that’s good to know.
The Shabistan Cinema also draws audiences because it screens the latest Pashtu language movies.
Many renowned Pakistani screenwriters believe that cinema patrons lost their enthusiasm for cinema due to unpopular Pakistani films and obsolete cinema technology and the Taliban threat simply forced the cinema owners to switch to another business.