Pakistan Restores Access to Wikipedia Three Days After Ban

    Pakistan Restores Access to Wikipedia Three Days After Ban
    Last updated Feb 06, 2023
    Image credit: Yahoo


    • Just three days after blocking access to Wikipedia, Pakistan lifted its ban — allowing its people to use the free encyclopedia again — with Prime Minister Sharif saying the prohibition was not a "suitable measure" to restrict access to objectionable content.[1]
    • Sharif released a letter saying the ban’s "unintended consequences" do not outweigh its benefits. He also assembled a cabinet committee, including ministers for Information Technology and Telecom, Law and Justices, Information and Broadcasting, and Commerce and Communications, to focus on matters related to online content.[2]
    • The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced the ban Saturday after Wikipedia failed to remove "blasphemous content" within a 48-hour deadline.[3]
    • The media regulator's crackdown on content it considers blasphemous to Islam comes as Pakistan has banned other media outlets for similar reasons, including TikTok in 2020 and 2021 and YouTube in 2008.[4]
    • The country has strict blasphemy laws, and disparaging Islam or its figures can result in the death penalty — although Pakistan has not executed anyone for blasphemy. Rights groups say the laws are used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal disputes.[5]
    • Wikipedia’s parent, the Wikimedia Foundation, had called on Pakistan to restore access to the website, saying that it hopes "that the Pakistan government joins us in a commitment to knowledge as a human right and restores access to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects promptly."[6]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    Pakistan’s ban against Wikipedia violates human rights and reflects poorly on the nation’s global image. Pakistanis have a right to information and knowledge, and a ban on an encyclopedia is a regressive move that deprives people of a vital resource. Pakistan made the right choice in quickly reinstating Wikipedia.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    This move may not have been popular within the international community, but Wikipedia was given 48 hours to comply with Pakistani law relating to blasphemous content. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is committed to ensuring a safe online experience for Pakistani citizens, and Wikipedia must respect the nation’s laws. Pakistan's approach has been reasonable and measured.

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