Wikipedia services have been restored in Pakistan on the directions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with the website now once again accessible in Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, based on the recommendation of a ministerial committee, the premier had directed to immediately restore Wikipedia in Pakistan.
Wikipedia is a free, crowdsourced, editable online encyclopedia often used as a starting point by millions across the world for basic information.
On February 1, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) degraded Wikipedia services in the country on account of not blocking/removing sacrilegious content. The telecom regulator also warned that in case of non-compliance by Wikipedia within 48 hours, the platform will be blocked in Pakistan.
Press Release: PTA has degraded Wikipedia services in the country on account of not blocking / removing sacrilegious contents. pic.twitter.com/h6ZWuf8TnR
— PTA (@PTAofficialpk) February 1, 2023
Subsequently, on February 3, Wikipedia services in Pakistan were blocked for failure to remove sacrilegious content.
Soon after the website was blocked, the Wikimedia Foundation called on Pakistan to restore access to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in the country immediately.
Wikipedia has been blocked in Pakistan.
Today, Pakistan’s Telecommunications Authority blocked @Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in the country.
Follow the thread for more information 🧵⬇️ (1/4)https://t.co/8xM73if9B2
— Wikimedia Foundation (@Wikimedia) February 4, 2023
Wikimedia Foundation said that it believes that access to knowledge is a human right. Wikipedia is the world’s largest online encyclopedia, and the main source of trusted information for millions. It’s an ever-growing record of history, and gives people from all backgrounds the opportunity to contribute to everyone’s understanding of their religion, heritage, and culture, it said in its statement.
Wikimedia Foundation said that a block of Wikipedia in Pakistan denies the fifth most populous nation in the world access to the largest free knowledge repository. If it continues, it will also deprive everyone access to Pakistan’s knowledge, history, and culture.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that the decision to ban Wikipedia “betrays a wilful lack of understanding of the role that social media play in allowing people to obtain, fact-check, share and respond to news and information.“
The @PTAofficialpk's decision to ban Wikipedia betrays a wilful lack of understanding of the role that social media play in allowing people to obtain, fact-check, share and respond to news and information. #wikipediaBlocked pic.twitter.com/UGRsww6nZB
— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) February 5, 2023
Calling the ban absurd, it demanded that PTA reverse its decision immediately.
Amnesty International South Asia said that the bank on Wikipedia is an unjustifiable restriction on the right to freedom of expression and must be reversed immediately and unconditionally
PAKISTAN: We are alarmed about the blanket #Wikipediablock implemented by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on 4 Feb. This amounts to an unjustifiable restriction on the right to freedom of expression and must be reversed immediately and unconditionally. (1/3)
— Amnesty International South Asia (@amnestysasia) February 6, 2023
Various other tech organizations, civil society and academics also demanded a reversal of the ban on Wikipedia in Pakistan.
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