The State Bank of Pakistan has asked banks to stop accepting online payments for digital content from India immediately, Dawn reported, citing a circular.

“We are in receipt of a letter from the cabinet division, Government of Pakistan, whereby they have instructed to stop different modes of payments, including credit cards, for subscribing (to) Indian Content in Pakistan, including Zee5 video-on-demand service,” said the circular issued on November 9. “In this regard, it is advised to ensure meticulous compliance of aforementioned instructions of Government of Pakistan and submit compliance status to SBP [State Bank of Pakistan] (by) November 13, 2020.”

Former chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Absar Alam said that Indian content is already banned in the country. The new circular could hit online payments for Direct to Home service, he added.

Alam said those who have the Direct to Home facility were mostly watching Indian content and make payments online. “Now the subscriber cannot pay directly from Pakistan, but the Indian provider can get payments from other countries like the United Arab Emirates,” the chief of the regulatory authority told the Pakistani daily.

The Direct to Home facility refers to the distribution of multinational television programmes through a satellite system and providing the signals directly to subscribers. No data, however, was available in Pakistan to say how many of its citizens have subscribed to Indian content.

Unidentified persons in the entertainment business told the newspaper that the ban was imposed against the background of a drama serial broadcast by Zee5, an Indian channel.

The Pakistani webseries in question, Churail, was banned in the country for its bold subject matter and depiction of its female leads, according to BBC. The country’s regulatory body asked Zee5, which streamed the show, to take down the series for Pakistani audiences. The platform then complied.

The series features a group of women from different backgrounds who come together to start a secret detective agency called Churails, which is the Urdu word for “witch”. The show was, however, restored in Pakistan after criticism.

The show’s director Asim Abbasi expressed disappointment after the Pakistani bank’s order.