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Wikipedia Unblocked in Pakistan After Prime Minister’s Intervention

Wikipedia Unblocked in Pakistan After Prime Minister’s Intervention – Pakistan has unblocked Wikipedia in the South Asian market, three days after the online encyclopedia was restricted in the country for failing to remove “sacrilegious” content, according to the local regulator.

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Shehbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, directed the unblocking order, calling the censorship on Wikipedia “not a suitable measure to restrict access to some objectionable contents / sacrilegious matter on it.” “The unintended consequences of this blanket ban, therefore, outweigh its benefits,” his office wrote in a letter, which was shared publicly on Twitter.

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Sharif has also formed a cabinet committee that will include “ministers for IT and Telecom, Law and Justice, Information and Broadcasting, Commerce and Communications” to investigate and recommend alternative technical measures for removing or blocking access to objectionable content on Wikipedia and other online content.

Last Wednesday, the Pakistani telecom authority “degraded” access to Wikipedia and threatened to totally block the site in 48 hours if certain content was not removed. The regulator claimed that representatives from Wikipedia were refusing to acknowledge the directive. Wikipedia was banned in the country on Friday. The South Asian nation’s move to block the website received wide backlash and global media attention.

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“We hope that the Pakistan government joins us in a commitment to knowledge as a human right and restores access to @Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects promptly, so that the people of Pakistan can continue to receive and share knowledge with the world,” Wikimedia, the parent firm of Wikipedia, said on Saturday.

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The English version of Wikipedia receives over 50 million pageviews per month from Pakistan, Wikimedia said. “The Wikimedia Foundation does not make decisions around what content is included on Wikipedia or how that content is maintained.”

“This is by design to ensure that articles are the result of many people coming together to determine what information should be presented on the site, resulting in richer, more neutral articles. We respect and support the editorial decisions made by the community of editors around the world,” it added.

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