Islamabad: Pakistan government today briefly lifted its ban on YouTube which was imposed over three months
ago to cut off access to clips from an anti-Islam film.
The authorities reinstated the ban less than an hour after removing the restrictions on the video-sharing website. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority directed Internet service providers and mobile phone firms to unblock YouTube this afternoon and users of the popular website were able to access it briefly after over 100 days.
Within an hour, however, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf directed the PTA to ban the website after a right-wing journalist from the Jang news group reported on television that the anti-Islam film “Innocence Of Muslims” could still be accessed on YouTube.
Pakistan will unblock the popular video sharing website ‘YouTube’ within 24hours, the country’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said, after over three months ban.
Malik announced the government’s plan to lift the ban on YouTube and Twitter last night, saying precautions would be taken to filter blasphemous material and pornography. “I chaired a high level (meeting with) all stakeholders on the (YouTube). (Good) job by PTA (to) block anti-Islamic material! (Please expect YouTube) unblocked in 24 hrs,” he said in a tweet.
The minister said that the decision to revoke the ban on YouTube and Twitter was being taken due to huge public demand, but added that the telecom regulator would install a firewall to block unseemly content.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had in mid-September directed authorities to block YouTube for hosting “blasphemous material”, including clips from the movie ‘Innocence Of Muslims’. The film triggered violent protests by right wing groups across Pakistan and the government itself sanctioned a day of protests on September 21, which was observed as “Love the Prophet Day”.
Twenty-three people were killed and property worth billions of rupees was destroyed during these protests. The Express Tribune newspaper criticised the government for continuing with the ban on YouTube. “The original excuse for the ban—that the website was hosting an anti-Islam video—can no longer be the justification given that few even remember anything about the video now,” said the editorial.
“This is purely a naked power play by the government and one that we should resist. This is about controlling our behaviour and denying us access to the internet. This is about the only logical explanation left since YouTube has millions of videos of which a bare handful would be considered objectionable by the government and the judiciary,” it said.
The editorial said the government should realise that it is not possible to censor the internet “the way that governments used to censor media in the print age.”