After months of effort, sending out innumerable tweets, setting up a special committee and raising the matter in the cabinet and even enjoying four hours of success in the campaign, Interior Minister Rehman Malik finally admitted defeat in having video sharing website YouTube unblocked in Pakistan.
On Thursday, Malik tweeted from his verified account:
"Dear All; I can only make recommendations to open the UTube and I did so. Accordingly the U tube was unblocked but was re-blocked by the Govt."
It is the same account from which Malik had tweeted almost a month ago that people should expect a notification on YouTube being unblocked.
That joy was short lived as hours after the site was reopened, it was blocked again.
The orders for that block came from the office of the same person who had ordered it shut on September 18, 2012 - Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Background to the ban
Pakistan had banned YouTube over clips from a film hosted on the website that sought to ridicule Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
The amateurishly produced film, Innocence of Muslims, caused furore across the Muslim world precipitating into mass street protests in Egypt, Libya and in Pakistan among other Muslim countries. US embassies in Cairo and Benghazi were stormed. The US Ambassador in Libya was assassinated in a militant attack in the midst of the protests.
To quell public fury which threatened to spill over in Pakistan, the prime minister banned YouTube after the website and its parent company Google refused to pull the video from its server or to block access to the content in the country.
Blocking the website, Pakistan joined Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sudan to block YouTube after it failed to honour requests from the respective governments to restrict access to the content or to pull it off the site.
YouTube though unilaterally blocked access to the clips in Egypt and Libya while it blocked the content in India, Indonesia and Malaysia after requests from their respective governments. It took a threat from the government of Saudi Arabia and a court order in Brazil to get YouTube to block access to the video in those two countries.
The White House twice requested Google to take the film off its sites, but the Internet giant refused on both counts, maintaining that the film did not violate its rules or regulations.
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