LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) refused to temporarily restore access to YouTube, a video sharing website, again in the country on Thursday.
However Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the LHC ordered the Ministry of Information Technology to form suggestions to block access to blasphemous material on the internet in Pakistan and inform the court about them on July 25.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the LHC issued this order on the petition filed by an NGO, Bytes For All, seeking a lift on the ban on YouTube in the country.
The judge sought suggestions from the ministry as it expressed its inability to block the material as counsel for the petitioner said that the particular objectionable material, instead of the entire website, could be blocked.
Counsel for the petitioner Advocate Yasir Latif Hamdani requested the judge to issue orders for reopening the website temporarily but the court denied it.
A representative of the ministry said that it was a sensitive issue and the reopening of the website could cause unrest in the entire country.
The judge said that he was not an expert on the matter and asked the Ministry of IT to form a committee on the issue.
He said that the ministry could invite suggestions from the people as well to permanently block blasphemous material on the internet.
YouTube had been blocked across Pakistan on September 17, 2012 following orders by then Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
The prime minister had imposed the ban after YouTube refused the Pakistani government to remove a ‘blasphemous’ film from the website.
In the petition on behalf of the NGO, Advocate Yasser Latif Hamdani argued that all internet curbs are counterproductive and deprive Pakistanis of the right to access information as well as the right to counter any propaganda against the country or against their beliefs.
He said that taking away the access for YouTube was the modern equivalent of taking away a scholar’s pen.
Hamdani said that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority made an incorrect statement when they declared that they could not ban individual website addresses.
The recent ban on Beghairat Brigade’s video on vimeo.com shows that individual website addresses can be easily blocked, he said.
He said that across the board blockage of YouTube, therefore, was unjustified.