Wed, 29 Mar 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], February 7 (ANI): Pakistan has lifted the ban on the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia after the country's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to restore it with "immediate effect," Geo News reported.

The decision was taken after a three-member ministerial committee comprising Pakistan's Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar, Minister for Economic Affairs and Political Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb made the recommendation, Geo News reported citing a statement from the Prime Minister's office.

On February 1, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said that it was "degrading" Wikipedia services in Pakistan over the presence of "sacrilegious content", which the platform had been asked to remove. However, Wikipedia failed to remove the content.

Two days later, Pakistan authorities banned the encyclopedia after it failed to respond to the objections, according to a Geo News report. On February 6, the matter of the ban was placed before Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif. He constituted a ministerial committee for a preliminary examination of the issue.

According to the statement, the committee said, "Wikipedia was a useful site/portal which supported the dissemination of knowledge and information for the general public, students and the academia."According to Geo News report, statement further said, "Blocking the site in its entirety was not a suitable measure to restrict access to some objectionable contents/sacrilegious matters on it. The unintended consequences of this blanket ban, therefore, outweigh its benefits."After the committee's statement, Shehbaz Sharif on Monday directed that Wikipedia be restored with "immediate effect". He further set up a new cabinet committee to look into the matter closely, as per the news report.

The committee set up by Sharif will include Pakistan's Minister for Law and Justice, Minister for Economic Affairs and Political Affairs, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Minister for commerce, Minister for communications, and Minister of IT and Telecommunication.

The committee's aim is to review the suitability of PTA's ban on Wikipedia while checking and suggesting alternative technical measures for the removal of objectionable content on Wikipedia or any other online information sites, considering the "social cultural and religious sensitivities" of Pakistan, as per the Geo News report.

The committee will also share other recommendations with the aim to control unlawful online content in a balanced way and has been ordered to present it for consideration within a week's time. (ANI)

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