02/21/2013 10:48 am ET

'Zero Dark Thirty' Ban? Oscar-Nominated Film Reportedly Blocked 'Unofficially' In Pakistan

"Zero Dark Thirty" might be a top Oscar contender in the United States, but in Pakistan the movie has been all but erased from existence.

"Zero Dark Thirty" has been "unofficially" banned in Pakistan, according to NBC News. The film hasn't been officially released, the Pakistani government has not commented on it and, "technically, no one in Pakistan is supposed to have ever seen the movie," NBC reporter Waj S. Khan writes.

Pakistan is the backdrop for the film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Jessica Chastain, about the hunt for and death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. It details an intricate timeline from 2003 through May 2, 2011, the day the terrorist leader was found hiding in Pakistan and killed by Navy SEAL Team 6.

Pakistan movie theaters decided to opt out of purchasing the flick from international distributors, even though it has still been viewed on bootleg DVDs and pirated downloads, NBC reports. Mohsin Yaseen, manager of Cinepax, the largest multiplex chain in Pakistan, explained to the network, "If you’re going to say something about a complicated part of the world, then you should say it right.”

According to the Associated Press, only a handful of movie theaters in the country show English-language films, and these theaters must submit film selections to censors for approval. Not a single one of these theaters has shown "Zero Dark Thirty" yet, the AP reports, and no distributor has applied for permission to show it.

DVDs of the film were previously available for purchase in Islamabad, but stores have recently stopped selling "Zero Dark Thirty" because of the unofficial ban, the AP notes.

Some Pakistanis took issue with certain misleading details in the Oscar-nominated film, and there remains harbored resentment over the U.S. military's secret raid, Yahoo! Movies reporter Mark Deming notes.

Author Mohammed Hanif, who raises the possibility that "Zero Dark Thirty" has been banned because it is "considered an insult to our innocence," elaborates on the misleading details in an article for the BBC.

Via the BBC:

We do not speak Arabic, and we do not eat hummus - these seem to be the top objections from Pakistani viewers. Another popular view is that, contrary to the American lady's claim in the film, we do have lots and lots of SUVs. The Pakistan of 'Zero Dark Thirty' is depicted as a series of torture chambers, CIA work-stations, Pushtun elders talking in Arabic and Arab elders talking in English.

Native Pakistanis are not the only ones with a problem.

U.S. senators have also expressed disapproval of "Zero Dark Thirty," stressing that the film overstates the use of torture in U.S. anti-terrorism procedures. According to The New York Times, the senators said the film’s flaws have “the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner."



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