PTA orders ISPs to unblock YouTube immediately

PTA directs ISPs to open access to video-sharing site after it announced local version, blocking blasphemous content

Saad Hasan January 18, 2016

KARACHI: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Monday formally issued directives to all internet service providers (ISPs) to remove viewing barriers from YouTube, the most popular video-streaming website.

The website’s Pakistani domain has already been online for the past couple of days as part of a trial run, a PTA official told The Express Tribune.

"They have blocked the unwanted content which was the main point of contention and it has been solved," the official said on the condition of anonymity as the authority is yet to issue a formal statement in this regard.

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The YouTube ban had been a dilemma for PTA, which has been credited for contributing to the expansion of telecommunication and internet services in Pakistan over the years.

"We acted as a messenger in this case. You do realise the sensitivity of the matter. So we did what government told us to do," the official added. Even though the regulator is largely independent, it has to take dictates from federal government on matters of religion and national security.

The lifting of the ban comes after almost three and a half years as the popular video-sharing website was blocked in the country in September 2012 after a low-budget movie containing sacrilegious content sparked furious protests around the world.

At the time, the country’s top court ruled the site should be banned until a way is found to block all blasphemous material. Google had removed the movie following a US court order but its shorter versions are still available online.

Last week, a Supreme Court judge had remarked that the YouTube is an educational tool and it should not be mixed up with other sites containing pornographic content. “As far as objectionable material is concerned, technical experts must address this issue,” Justice Faez Isa, a member of a two-judge bench, said while hearing a petition seeking a permanent ban on YouTube and abolition of obscenity.

SC judge says YouTube is an educational tool

The petition had been filed by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the late ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and another JI leader Muhammad Hussain Mehnti. Another petition, filed by Barrister Zafar Ullah Khan, which seeks lifting of the YouTube ban, was clubbed with it.

In 2013, two petitions were filed challenging the ban on YouTube: one before the Peshawar High Court and another before the Lahore High Court (LHC). A third petition was filed in 2014 before the Sindh High Court, challenging censorship on the internet while also bringing into question the YouTube ban. Of these, proceedings before Justice Mansoor Ali Shah in the LHC were the most extensive.


Aamer Bukhari | 7 years ago | Reply You tube had become the biggest source of learning, a mega encyclopedia of knowledge and information and of course Pakistan government, establishment and the Army wants all Pakistanis to remain animals, they dont want you to be aware of your rights and democratic values, the blasphemous video was a joint venture produced and financed by the same high level Pakistani scum bags on behest of US state policy to maintain black clouds of misery and subjugation on Pakistan for ulterior motives......USA is petrified to experience 20 thousand plus Americans converting to Islam every year , from a bird view scale this trend is had to be countered by playing a stupid video so both Pakistanis and US wanna be Muslim aspirations if not curbed then at least dampened or weakened in intensity....Dumb people are guarantee for usurpers to rise and rule.
[email protected] | 7 years ago | Reply Hear, hear! Let's all welcome this long-awaited return to sanity.
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