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Friday, August 11, 2006 

Karachi (Reuters): Authorities in Karachi have ordered the removal of billboards showing Indian film star amitabh bachchan in front of Pakistan's flag to promote a television quiz show opening on the country's independence day. ''We are not enemies of Mr Bachchan. But his picture on our national flag was an objectionable act and we ordered them to remove his picture from the flag,'' Mirza Asif Baig, a local government official told Reuters today. ''This place is reserved only for our own heroes,'' he added.

Telefun, a private call-in entertainment company, had posted the giant billboards round the city to promote a quiz show along the lines of an Indian version of the US quiz show ''Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'' hosted by Bachchan. The billboards said the show would be aired from August 14 - the day Pakistan celebrates independence from Britain and partition from India. Abdul Qadir, Telefun's marketing manager, said the company was complying with the authorities' directive.

''We have already started disassociating Bachchan's picture from the national flag,'' Qadir said. ''It was a mistake.'' Qadir said Telefun had used Bachchan's image because of the similar format of the programme in the two countries. Bachchan is regarded as the most famous living Indian movie star and is popular on both sides of the border, although there is a long-standing ban on screening of Indian films in cinema halls in Pakistan. Indian films are easily available, however, on pirated CDs and are also aired on cable television channels in Pakistan.

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