Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan’s (TLP) intrusion into the arts and Pakistani cinema was always going to lead to negative consequences, and this is exactly what has come to pass. A new petition, this time concerning popular television show ‘Mere Pass Tum Ho’ has been filed in a civil court, seeking to block yet another form of creative production, simply because one petitioner’s sensibilities are affected.

It does not matter whether the petitioner has conservative or liberal values, individuals have no right to intercede on matters that do not concern them. If one finds fault with a TV show or movie, they have the choice to not watch it. Ensuring that it is banned for others is both intolerable and a gross misuse of the court’s time. Where does one draw the line on an issue like this? If the state starts looking for minute details in each and every cultural commodity, then soon there might not be any forms of expression that are acceptable to each and every one in society.

Pakistan has a robust legal system, with institutions and laws in place that monitor forms of artistic expression in both cinema and TV. The film censor board and the Pakistani Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) monitor all finished products to ensure they don’t fall foul of any laws in the constitution. Both the film Zindagi Tamasha and this show have gone through government filters and came out unchanged. What is left for the courts to decide?

Beyond the laws themselves, there is absolutely no basis for looking to stop circulation of creative art pieces, especially because some may find issue with it. Freedom of expression extends to creative output as well, and the state cannot subvert the rights of artists only to placate a few individuals that believe that they can determine what forms of media others can consume.

The government needs to nip this issue in the bud. Pandering to specific groups is not acceptable, because it sends our society in a dark direction; heavily curating forms of artistic expression in the best case, and supressing any forms of creative output at worst. For this that find fault with art that is not specifically tailored to their perspectives of an ideal society should develop tougher skin and learn to let others live, even if their opinion on what cultural products should be like may vary across the board.