Pakistani film to hit Chinese cinemas for first time in over 40 years

A poster of 'Parwaaz Hai Junoon', the first Pakistani film to release in China after more than 40 years. (Courtesy: Social Media)
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Updated 27 October 2020

Pakistani film to hit Chinese cinemas for first time in over 40 years

  • Military action-romance film “Parwaaz Hai Junoon” will screen in wide release from Nov 13
  • Only a half dozen Pakistani films have been screened in China in recent years

ISLAMABAD: This November, China will release the first Pakistani film to hit its cinemas in more than 40 years as Beijing seeks to forge even closer relations with longtime ally Islamabad at a time when its relations with India, with its giant film industry, are on the decline, international media reported on Tuesday. 

The action-romance film “Parwaaz Hai Junoon” will screen in wide release from November 13, American media company Variety reported. 

Beijing has invested over $60 billion dollars in Pakistan in recent years, financing a network of energy and infrastructure projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. 

Now, films will also be used to bolster closer ties.

Chinese authorities announced back in April 2019 at the Pakistan-China Trade and Investment Forum, an event on the sidelines of Beijing’s Belt and Road Forum, that they would import “Parwaaz Hai Junoon.”

The film’s release comes ahead of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan in May 1951.

Until now, the amity between Pakistan and China has not translated into the exchange of films, despite a “cultural cooperation agreement” signed in 1965.

The most expensive Pakistani film ever made, the upcoming “Legend of Maula Jatt,” a Punjabi-language reboot of the 1979 Lollywood cult classic “Maula Jatt,” was widely billed in the local press as the first Pakistani film to receive a day-and-date release in China. However, its planned May 2020 debut was indefinitely pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic and its China fate appears unconfirmed.

Only a half dozen Pakistani films have been screened in China in recent years, and mostly at government-run Chinese film festivals such as the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Film Festival” and the Silk Road International Film Festival.


Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

Updated 29 November 2020

Pakistan Steel Mills workers say will challenge mass layoffs in court

  • PSM management argues the company’s accumulated losses reached Rs212 billion ($1.33 billion) in June
  • The termination of 4,500 contracts is believed to be the biggest layoff from a single entity in Pakistan’s history

KARACHI: Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) employees are going to challenge in court the company’s recent decision to terminate the contracts of thousands of workers, union representatives said on Sunday.

The management of the state-owned company on Friday handed letters of termination to some 4,500 employees, arguing that PSM’s accumulated losses had reached Rs212 billion ($1.33 billion) in June, when the government decided that 9,350 workers would have to be fired for the dysfunctional enterprise to be revived.
“PSM has terminated 4,500 employees in the first phase of government’s plan to lay off 9,350 employees ... The employees have refused to accept this termination they have registered protests and have decided to challenge this decision in court next week,” Mirza Maqsood, President of Voice of Pakistan Steel Officers Association, told Arab News.

Located 40 kilometers from Karachi, Pakistan’s largest industrial complex with a steel production capacity of 1.1 million tons has been dysfunctional for the past few years. Its operations were suspended in 2015.
“Neither the Company has funds to revive the Mills nor are funds available from any other source to revive the Steel Mill. In any case, revival of the mill would require, firstly massive investment and secondly, entail a period of at least two years,” reads a PSM termination letter seen by Arab News.
The layoff was defended by federal Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar, who on Saturday said the terminated employees would be given compensation of Rs2.3 million on average.

“Since the closure of the mill, the government has paid around Rs35 billion as salaries and Rs20 billion as arears to the employees,” he said.

The discharge of workers is said to be one of the biggest layoffs of employees from a single government entity in the country’s history. 
 Karamat Ali, executive director at Pakistan Institute of Labor Education & Research (PILER), said the PSM layoff in unprecedented.
“No such number of employees have ever been fired from a single government institution,” he said.
The decision was also opposed by the provincial government of Sindh, which vowed to support the affected employees. 
“This is wrong and injustice. They (the federal government) must adhere to their earlier stance and commitments of turning the state institutions around with the help of their champions. I am with the employees,” Sindh Labor Minister Saeed Ghani told Arab News.
Mumrez Khan, convener of a representative body of employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers and contractors of PSM, said that no serious efforts have been made by the federal government to revive the mill, claiming that negligence had caused losses even higher than those cited by PSM management.

“The accumulated losses have swelled to $12 billion on the account of closure of plants, revenue to the government and imports of steel products,” he said.