PTA Issues Notices To Google & Wikipedia Over Sacrilegious Content

Prime Minister established a fresh cabinet committee in accordance with the Rules of Business 1973 to investigate the situation further.

PTA Issues Notices To Google & Wikipedia Over Sacrilegious Content

Ban on Wikipedia in Pakistan has been lifted after a two-day suspension. The prime minister ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Monday to do so “immediately.”

According to a statement from the PM’s Office, the choice was based on the advice of a ministerial committee made up of Minister for Law and Justice, Minister for Economic Affairs and Political Affairs and Minister for Information and Broadcasting.

PTA declared on February 1 that it was “degrading” Wikipedia services in Pakistan due to “sacrilegious content” that the website had been asked to remove but had not done so. After the encyclopaedia failed to address the concerns two days later, it was completely outlawed, which infuriated the nation.

Following this development, the issue of the ban was brought before the prime minister on February 6 (today), and he established a ministerial committee to conduct an initial investigation of the matter.

Wikipedia was a helpful site or portal that supported the dissemination of knowledge and information for the general public, students, and academia, the committee concluded, according to the statement.

Blocking the website entirely was not the best course of action for limiting access to some of its objectionable contents or sacrilegious material. Therefore, the benefits of this broad ban outweigh its drawbacks, according to the statement.

After that, the prime minister issued an order to “immediately” restore Wikipedia. Furthermore, PM established a fresh cabinet committee in accordance with the Rules of Business 1973) to investigate the situation further.

The members of this committee will be the ministers of law and justice, economic affairs, political affairs, information and broadcasting, commerce, and communications, as well as the minister of IT and telecommunication, who will also serve as the committee’s chair.

A further provision of the directive allowed the committee to “co-opt any expert members or seek opinions from expert individuals or organizations to reach its findings.”

The committee is tasked with assessing the PTA’s ban on Wikipedia and recommending alternate technical measures to remove or block objectionable content, while keeping in mind the “social, cultural, and religious sensitivities” of the nation. The committee has been instructed to submit its report and recommendations within a week.

It is also tasked with sharing any additional recommendations with the aim of balancing the control of illegal online content. Reply to the ban The block “denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository,” according to the non-profit organisation managing Wikipedia.

According to a statement, “If it persists, it will also deny everyone access to Pakistan’s knowledge, history, and culture.” Campaigners for free speech have also drawn attention to what they claim is an increasing pattern of government censorship of Pakistan’s printed and electronic media.

Digital rights activist Usama Khilji stated, “There has simply been a concerted effort to exert greater control over the content on the internet.” He said that the main goal was to silence any dissent. Blasphemy is frequently used as a weapon for that reason, he said. The nation has also frequently blocked the hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok in recent years due to its “indecent” and “immoral” content.