The federal minister for information revealed on Saturday that the government has decided in principle to lift an official ban on a popular video-sharing website. YouTube was banned by the government in September 2012 after it refused to remove a blasphemous video.
“We will reopen YouTube soon. Neither had we blocked the website nor we favour its closure,” Senator Pervaiz Rasheed told journalists at a prize distribution ceremony arranged by the South Asian Media School (SAMS). “People will hear good news soon,” he added.
Rasheed said the government acknowledges YouTube as a source of information, but unfortunately, it was also being used to promote objectionable materials.
Asked about the Right to Information Bill, the minister said the bill was passed by the Punjab Assembly in 2012 and at the national level it was passed unanimously by the Senate.
A Senate committee will be meeting on Monday to discuss this issue. “I will try my level best to arrange a joint meeting where the recommendations of APNS and PBC could be discussed, and we welcome their recommendations,” he said.
To another question, the minister said the government was trying to provide security to all citizens, including journalists, against terrorists.
He urged young journalists to write and support tolerance and interfaith harmony in society. “Unfortunately, we are promoting ignorance. We promoted it through mass media. Instead of giving pens, we gave the public guns,” he said.
About the proposed peace talks with the Taliban, the minister said it was a collective decision of the political leadership. “The government is proceeding on the issue in line with the decision of an all-party conference,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2013.