Wikipedia Services Restore in Pakistan

Mr. Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif ordered PTA to restore the services of Wikipedia all across Pakistan with immediate effect.

The Federal Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Ms. Maryam Aurangzeb, tweeted the news about the restoration of the services of Wikipedia. Also, a Cabinet Committee has been established to address Wikipedia and other online content issues. Blocking the entire site was not a suitable measure to restrict access to some objectionable content, which is why the ban was removed after two days.

Due to the country’s “social, cultural, and religious sensitivities,” where blasphemy remains a highly contentious and sensitive issue, the committee will explore and recommend alternative technical measures for dealing with objectionable content on Wikipedia and other online information sites. The Wikimedia Foundation welcomes Pakistan’s decision to lift the ban on Wikipedia. They said, “the people of Pakistan can easily benefit from the most reliable, verified, and free information and also spread knowledge across the world after this restoration.”

In a statement on February 1, PTA announced on its official website that it was “degrading” access to Wikipedia in Pakistan due to the presence of “blasphemous content,” providing the website with 48 hours to take them down. No specific content was mentioned in the statement that it considered heretical. After not getting a response from the officials, they banned the sites all over Pakistan. On February 4, Wikimedia stated, “The fifth most populous nation in the world is denied access to the world’s largest free knowledge repository, and if this situation continues, then the world didn’t access the knowledge, history, and culture of Pakistan.

Furthermore, the foundation stressed that it does not take part in the decision-making process regarding what content is added to Wikipedia or how it is maintained. Pakistan has previously blocked several major websites, online games, and social media applications. Between 2012 and 2016, YouTube, the world’s number one video-sharing website, was blocked in the country due to content considered “blasphemous” by the Pakistani government. The Chinese social media app TikTok was banned for nearly six months in 2020 for “spreading atrocity and depravity.”

Written by Aly Bukshi

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