Anti-Pakistan content gets video games off shelves in Pakistan

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) Two hugely popular video games, including "Call Of Duty: Black Ops II", have been ordered off store shelves in Pakistan for portraying Pakistanis as terrorists.

According to gameinformer, the world's largest video game magazine, the All Pakistan CD, DVD, Audio Cassette Traders and Manufacturers Association has directed that "Call of Duty: Black Ops II' and "Medal of Honour: Warfighter" be taken off the shelves as they "show Pakistan in very poor light".

"Call of Duty: Black Ops II", a first-person shooter game by Activision Blizzard, has an episode where the player is in Lahore and brutally kills Pakistanis while "Medal of Honour: Warfighter", another first-person shooter by Electronic Arts, shows Pakistan as a hotbed of terrorists. Both games were released late last year and have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Gameinformer quotes Saleem Memon, president of the All Pakistan CD, DVD, Audio Cassette Traders and Manufacturers Association, as saying: "The problem is that there are things that are against Pakistan and they have included criticism of our army. They show the country in a very poor light."

It quotes the circular issued earlier this week asking for both the games to be boycotted. The association circular reads: "The Association has always boycotted these types of films and games. These (games) have been developed against the country's national unity and sanctity. The games have been developed against Pakistan and the association has completely banned their sale. Shopkeepers are warned and will be responsible for the consequences if found purchasing or selling these games."

Whether the circular was issued at the behest of the government was not known.

" 'Call of Duty: Black Ops II' has one mission, titled 'The Fallen Angel' based in Lahore where you fight the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistani spy agency), who are the enemies," Anand V, a video gaming enthusiast, told IANS.

"You have to fight and kill them in the mission," he explained.

According to Anand, you play as a character, David Mason. 'The Fallen Angel', as seen by the IANS correspondent, has a scene in which Mason and his friend Harper are in a heavily flooded part of Lahore. It is pouring heavily as the two men move around killing "the ISI forces". In some particularly gruesome scenes, the men cut the throats of some Pakistani soldiers, with the blood shown spurting out. In one pictorial scene, which intersperses with the game, Mason and Harper confront two Pakistani soldiers. "Mason bashes the head of one soldier against the door of the armoured truck, while Harper does it with the other Pakistani. Both are probably killed," Anand said.

"In 'The Fallen Angel' you fight a lot of Pakistanis. You are travelling in a military camp... you are part of an armoured convoy and there are Pakistanis on both sides trying to attack you.. Your armoured car crushes the men as they come in front of you," said Anand, in a graphic explanation of the violence in the game.

But why kill them?

"Well, they are the obstacles in the mission.. so you have to kill them," Anand answered.

Anand said he did not enjoy playing "Medal of Honour: Warfighter". "It is not my type of game," he said.

"Medal of Honour: Warfighter" depicts Pakistan as a jihadi haven and many sequences were developed with the help of some members of the Navy SEALs team that killed Osama bin Laden in a secret raid on his Abbottabad house in Pakistan on May 1, 2011.

The seven SEALs were penalised last November for divulging classified information to the game's developer. Each of the seven received a letter of reprimand and a partial forfeiture of pay for two months.

Kathryn Bigelow's movie, "Zero Dark Thirty" by Sony Pictures, tells the story of the SEALs who took down bin Laden. One of the seven had reportedly divulged information about the raid to the moviemaker.

According to Fox News, both the games are hot sellers in Pakistan. A US daily quotes a game shop owner in Islamabad as saying that "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" has sold more than 5,000 copies since its release last November. However, the pirated copies, which sell at under $2, have huge sales.

"Medal of Honor; Warfighter" has sold around 1,000 copies in Pakistan, the daily says.

Earlier, another game, "Assassin's Creed" was banned in Pakistan because Muslims found its content offensive.

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at ranjana.n@ians.in)

--Indo-Asian News service

rn/vm/tb

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