Pakistan’s supreme court has deprived television lovers of some of the country’s most popular shows after deciding to reintroduce a block on Indian content.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar made the ruling following a petition from local producers, but used his announcement to accuse India of cutting off water to Pakistan.
The ruling reinstates a 2016 ban on airing Indian content on television or FM radio after it had been overturned by a lower court last year.
The original 2016 ban drew criticism from television fans and from cable television operators. Indian soap operas and Bollywood films all have large followings, while police dramas and the local versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Big Brother are also popular. Indian TV personalities are household names.
Television and film have previously been the victims of tit-for-tat bans as the nuclear-armed neighbours clash over issues including Kashmir.
Earlier this year, India banned performances by Pakistani artists, and some Indian stations have stopped airing Pakistani content.
Indian producers have called for a comprehensive ban on Pakistani content, and Hindu extremists have threatened to attack cinemas showing films featuring Pakistani artists.
The ban came into effect immediately, with channels known for playing Hindi songs or films suddenly changing to Pakistani material.
Pakistan’s Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) confirmed the country’s top court had made the order to Nisar "stop airing all Indian content on TV channels".
The ruling covers terrestrial, satellite and cable channels.
The chairman of the Pakistan Cable Operators Association criticised the verdict.
“Ban on the all the Indian content is not the solution, rather we should try to better the quality of Pakistani TV shows," he told AFP.
The chief justice reportedly blamed India for cutting off Pakistan’s water supplies as he made the ruling.
"India is shrinking the flow of water into Pakistan," he said. "Why shouldn’t we close their channels?"
Pakistan’s agriculture is reliant on rivers that largely pass through Indian-Admnistered Kashmir. Islamabad has opposed Delhi building hydroelectric plants of the rivers, accusing its neighbour of trying to steal Pakistan’s water, which India denies.