Christmas cheer?: YouTube to be unblocked in '24 hours', tweets Rehman Malik

Published: December 28, 2012

YouTube has been blocked since September 17, 2012. PHOTO: FILE

Just as the clock ticked towards the 101st day that video sharing site YouTube was blocked in Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik tweeted on Friday evening that a decision has been taken to unblock the site in “24 hours”.

“I chaired a high level meeting with all stakeholders on the Youtube. Good job by PTA to block anti iIslamic material! Pl expect Youtube unblocked in 24hrs”

The move comes almost a month after the minister, whose ministry is not linked to either the Ministry of Information Technology, nor the blocking agency Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), formed a committee to look into ways how the video sharing site could be unblocked while not in conflict with court orders on blasphemous material.

Malik has maintained on numerous occasions that any decision to unblock the site would be taken by the Cabinet, where it was decided to block the site in the first place. His tweet indicates that the government, after failing to convince Google, or YouTube, has managed to put in place individual blocks on urls for the video in a work around to reopen the site.

The site had been blocked on September 17, 2012 by the Cabinet in the immediate aftermath of mass riots in Pakistan reacting to a clip from an amateurishly produced sacrilegious film. The film had sparked violent riots across the Muslim world after a translated version was aired on Egyptian television. The violence saw American embassy in Cairo and in Libya attacked.

Following the violence, YouTube had been requested by a number of countries to either block the film in their countries or to completely remove it from YouTube servers. While YouTube, and its parent company Google Inc explicitly refused to comply with the latter of the demands, it did endeavour to block access to the content in India, Malaysia, Indonesia after requests were received from those governments. Google though unilaterally blocked access to the videos in Egypt and Libya.

It took a threat to be blocked and a court order in Brazil for the service to block access to the specific videos. However, Google did not comply with requests from the Pakistan government, which then proceeded to block the website completely. In addition to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sudan blocked access to the video sharing site after it refused to remove the video or block access to it.

Google had also twice refused requests by the White House to remove the video claiming the video did not violate its community rules and thus there was no reason to remove the video.

Malik added that those who had been pressing him to unblock the site should be happy now.

“There was a great demand to unblock Youtube from all sections of society especially fellow tweeps. Expect the notification today! Hope you are all happy now”

Not really a silver lining

However, the news of the video sharing site being unblocked comes with an ominous cloud over it. In a subsequent tweet, Malik let in on a more disturbing trend:

“PTA is finalising negotiations for acquiring a powerful firewall software to totally block pornographic and blasphemous material.”

Rumours have been rife that the PTA has been trying to acquire a firewall which can block websites at a very high rate.

Reader Comments (24)

  • Concerned
    Dec 28, 2012 - 9:44PM

    An utter non-sense step which took months for rectification.

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  • GrimmJow
    Dec 28, 2012 - 9:46PM

    Congratulations Pakistan! :P

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  • Asif
    Dec 28, 2012 - 9:58PM

    What tweet? There isn’t such tweet on Rehman Mali’s official twitter handle.

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  • Ayesha Bhaalay
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:02PM

    Finally!
    Tired of spending money on US VPNs to access it for last 3,4 months. Hmm
    Also, I hope someone in PTA is knowledgeable enough to realize that censoring material isn’t always the best approach. You need to educate your people. If they don’t like the content, then simply don’t visit it.Recommend

  • Dec 28, 2012 - 10:13PM

    The Tie Man should tell this nation what goals were achieved by blocking the YouTube.Recommend

  • Usman Saeed
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:13PM

    Congratulations, one of the best things to happen this year!

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  • Shahzad
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:28PM

    Have the goals been achieved? Has Google Inc listened to our requests? If no, then why is this ban being removed? And if we knew that we won’t get positive response from google, why did we put the ban in first place?

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  • Colpit
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:32PM

    @hunzai:
    First of all by blocking we have attained a bit of self esteem which we as a nation and as Muslims are lacking. These 100 days without Youtube never felt different from anyother day. Just a PTA message appearing……

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  • PakPower
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:43PM

    The only thing achieved by this useless ban is the proliferation of proxies among the Pakistani internet community.

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  • sss
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:43PM

    We blocked the website which giving free service to users, now how shamelessly unblocking ? Is YouTube a property of Pakistan ? Its time for Google to block YouTube for Pakistan ,So people realize the value of information.

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  • Bewildered
    Dec 28, 2012 - 10:51PM

    Had the ban been placed on Google after they refused Pakistan’s request to block access to or to take off the blasphemous video, they would have listened and acted upon as they did in case of India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. But they exactly knew the real mettle of our ruling elite. Masters don’t obey to their servants.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 28, 2012 - 11:00PM

    In the absence of You Tube, people have been browsing ‘Why Tube’.

    People now will go back to You Tube and Why Tube will be losing its users.

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  • Dec 28, 2012 - 11:19PM

    Seriously? They had to form a ‘committee’ to decide the unblocking of a single website? Aren’t there much more important matters at hand? Why not unblock it straight away and spend their time doing something useful.

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  • spyderM
    Dec 28, 2012 - 11:41PM

    @Jazib:
    look at the members of govt right now and that alone will answer your question

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  • dr afzal
    Dec 28, 2012 - 11:53PM

    pathetic

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  • Saad Durrani
    Dec 29, 2012 - 1:00AM

    @Bewildered:
    I have no idea from where you heard this. India, Brazil, Malaysia, Russia, and France asked Google to restrict viewing of the video in their respective territories. Our little geniuses jumped the gun and went on blocking YouTube without proper consultation. I wonder how much censorship we will face as elections are just around the corner.

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  • Dec 29, 2012 - 1:06AM

    Thanks to Hotspot! YT was already available ! No need to pay “thanks” to Mr.Malik

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  • Mirza
    Dec 29, 2012 - 1:56AM

    Now all the problems of poor masses would finally be solved. What a great news for the land of pure which hates everything from West including vaccination but happy with UTube.

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  • doom
    Dec 29, 2012 - 2:02AM

    @Colpit:
    Self esteem? Really? Personally, I felt rather embarrassed and you should too.

    Do you really think other people are looking at us at thinking “Oh, these people are oh so esteemed; they deserve our respect”. No. They think we’re childishly emotional and not very bright as we insist on shooting ourselves in the foot in a rage every time somebody insults us.

    We really have to learn to react in a calm, controlled and sensible fashion. The government could have and still can negotiate with google in a reasonable manner without any bans and toothless threats.

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  • Muhammad zia
    Dec 29, 2012 - 12:12PM

    blocking you tube by govt was just like-some one sets his whole house on fire to get rid of a mouse ! it was technically a useless endeavour ,to deprive the pakistani mass of “ access to visual information relating scientific discoveries and intellectual debates ”.the govt need to aquire specific software for blocking blasphemous movie .

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  • Dec 29, 2012 - 12:33PM

    Still waiting :(

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  • Numair
    Dec 29, 2012 - 8:50PM

    There are people who have witnessed the idiocy of our government regarding their love-hate relationship with YouTube but not nearly enough people it seems have spoken out against it! The hypocrisy of trying to filter out some material which is against a certain ‘type’ of religion but yet talking about democracy and freedom of speech is glaringly obvious. Surely, Pakistan should have reached a stage of evolution where freedom of expression does not lead to a barbaric backlash from the masses or where a prime minister does not have to pander to the irrationality of religious repression. Either let us admit that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan does not really believe in freedom of expression or if we really do want to encourage freedom of expression, let us find the intellectual courage to defend ourselves in ways that do not resort to repression!

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  • Mark
    Jan 1, 2013 - 1:57PM

    What results does such moves yield except create a sense of false security. If parents do not wish to have their children get exposed to some content, there are several free and paid options like Qustodio. Use it and forget it. Censuring content achieves nothing.

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  • Ezhaar
    Jan 24, 2013 - 10:18PM

    Well.It still isn’t removed.This way government will be encouraged to build a firewall like the Great Firewall of China.Every major facility on the internet on the internet will be blocked except hotmail.Internet stone age YAY.People will say to each other”You know,there are still mordernly primitive people on the face of the Earth.

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