The State Bank of Pakistan has banned payments to the online streaming platform known as ZEE5.

According to reports, on the 13th of November the State Bank of Pakistan was instructed to withdraw its payments to online streaming platform 'ZEE5', which has aired many Pakistani webseries such as popular show 'Churails' and 'Ek Jhooti Love Story', the latter of which was released on the 30th of October, starring Madiha Imam and Bilal Abbas Khan.

After the show Churails was banned in early October, the decision was met with protest from the media fraternity, including members such as Sanam Saeed, Anoushey Ashraf, Osama Khalid Butt and many more, as well as director Asim Abbasi, who condemned the decision.

The ban was later removed and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) had initially stated that it was in fact the decision of the platform itself, not theirs to commence with the restriction of viewership. However, recently a notice was issued to banks across the country, stating that the Cabinet Division of Pakistan had in fact penned a letter requested a halt of payments to Indian content and streaming platforms, including ZEE5.

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Director Mehreen Jabbar has expressed her disdain regarding this ban, emphasising how it in fact only harms our own industry by stopping people from subscribing to content featuring Pakistani actors. “They might have made it more difficult to access ZEE5 in Pakistan at the moment but hope we find a way out of it because the only thing that will be hurt because of this ban is our own industry,”

Twitter has been a relatively active platform, with celebrities and personalities alike relaying their take and personal perspective regarding the new ban (which seems to be a recurring theme in the country). Fans, bloggers and famous names have referred to the aforementioned restrictions as a 'suppression of artistic freedom' as the move to not allow content, be it on any platform, inhibits Pakistan's own potential to be presented and viewed internationally.

Many have argued that with shows being banned in their very own country of origin, there is a hindrance on the growth and education of culture. Instead of promoting local talent and artistic potential, the decisions seem to want to suppress and curb it; and we can only hope that a conclusive decision is reached in the best interests of Pakistan.

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