NEW DELHI: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reportedly given an official go-ahead to a proposal calling for resuming the screening of Bollywood movies in the country.

According to a report published in The Express Tribune, Pakistan's Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, has published a gazette notification dated January 31, 2017, stating that "the Federal Government (of Pakistan) is pleased to continue the existing policy to display all international movies (including Indian films) in Pakistani cinema and is pleased to take decisions for revival of the Pakistani film industry.”

Kaabil and Raees are the first Bollywood films lined of for the release after the go-ahead, with the Tribune report noting that after the new import order of Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce for foreign movies is adopted, the changes will be implemented. if the formalities are completed in time, Kaabil can be released on February 3 following which Raees will release on February 10 in Pakistan.

The screening of Bollywood films was halted in Pakistan as relations between India and Pakistan took a hit following the Uri attack. Pakistan moved to institute a complete ban on Indian TV and radio content a few months ago, including banning Indian films from cinema halls. The move was in retaliation to a similar move in India, as the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association -- a body of filmmakers -- declared that Pakistani actors will not be allowed to work in Indian productions.

As cinemas across Pakistan took a hit, the Pakistani government moved to constitute a a committee to consider a request by distributors to resume the import of Bollywood films. Following the Uri attack, both India and Pakistan stepped up rhetoric and hardened positions. After bodies in India threatened to kick out Indian actors, Pakistan followed suit with a directive banning Indian TV and radio content from being aired in the country. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had already toughened its stance on channels airing Indian content, having said on August 31 that strict action would be taken against channels that were airing more Indian content than the prescribed limit of 6% of total content. In October, this directive was converted into an order for a complete ban.

As India and Pakistan spar over entertainment, arts and culture, the real casualty is the constituency of peace in both countries. The narrative that has emerged is that anyone who deviates from the narrowest agenda, is “anti national” and must be brought in line.

In India, for instance, filmmaker Karan Johar had to issue a public apology, promising not to work with Pakistani actors in the future. Johar’s film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” found itself in the centre of the India Pakistan spat as it starred Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Cinema owners said they were not willing to risk screening the film after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) -- a regional right wing group -- threatened to attack venues showing the film.

Meanwhile, relations between India and Pakistan continue to be tense. In the latest developments, Pakistan has placed 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed under house arrest, with India dismissing the significance of the move. India said only "a credible crackdown" on Saeed and on terrorist groups involved in cross-border terrorism would convince it of Pakistan's sincerity.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted India’s statement, saying that "exercises such as yesterday's orders against Hafiz Saeed and others have been carried out by Pakistan in the past also."