Terrorist attacks make Peshawar cinemas a ‘no go area’

February 15, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
PESHAWAR: The poster for Todd Robinson’s thriller Phantom at Naaz Cinema towers over Hospital Road near Lady Reading Hospital, but there is no one going in.

The cinema promises the perfect Hollywood experience the story of a Soviet submarine captain torn between family and duty, intrigue, great sound and cinematography and to top it off, Urdu dubbing, but for the unforeseeable future, business will not pick up as the theatre has been temporarily shut down.

Cinema Road wears a similar deserted look as the three cinemas located on the film strip Picture House, Ayeena and Palwasha cinemas have also closed their doors for the time being.

After two attacks on two cinema houses - Picture House and Shama Cinema - which left more than 17 dead, cinema owners have decided to close shop till proper security arrangements are made for them.

The police has warned cinema owners that they could be the target of more attacks and so to prevent any disasters, should beef up the security.

On their part, the police has also asked cinemas to install CCTVs and not let anyone go through without checking their Computerised National Identity Cards.

After the February 2 attack on Picture House in which four people were killed, the cinema house took a few days to get back on its feet and start showing films again.

However, after Tuesday’s attack at Shama Cinema in which 13 people were killed and many more injured, it was decided that the best course of action is to shut all cinemas temporarily. No notification was issued by the police or provincial government to shut down the cinemas.

The provincial government also wants the police to stand guard around the cinemas and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

Nishtarabad, the CD centre of Peshawar where one can also produce films, telefilms or dramas, has been attacked several times in the past and is facing many security threats today.

“Being the sole production centre of all entertainment in the province, we should be provided with security,” said Farhan Khan, the president of Nishtar CD Production Association.

Most Pashto films are made in Lahore’s Evernew Studios and then sent for production and distribution to Peshawar’s Nishtarabad.

Film producer Muzafar Khan and the owner of his own production house, said that they had cancelled screenings of the new productions at cinemas.

He added that the future of the industry depends on the condition of the province. “The people are not interested in watching the movies and we do not want to invest in this business anymore.”

“Even if the cinema houses were not closed, there was no audience,” he said. “So shutting them down will not really have an impact on the business.”

Cinema owners have decided to keep their curtains closed and provide cinemagoers with proper security.

Wazir Khan, a resident of Peshawar, felt that the theatres should remain closed while the law and order situation in the city was bad. He added that even though this was the only source of entertainment in the city, security was important.

 No group have claimed responsibility but the cinema received warnings prior to the attacks. It was believed that the attack happened because the theatre used to show pornographic films. The blasts were later condemned by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and mentioned that it will hinder peace talks as well. Some hours later, the attack was also condemned by the Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, as well as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain.                         Internews