Pakistan’s Prime Minister on February 6 ordered authorities to unblock Wikipedia, the government announced, just days after the online encyclopedia was restricted for “blasphemous content”.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and social media giants Facebook and YouTube have previously been banned for publishing content deemed sacrilegious.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted a copy of the order that stated: “The Prime Minister is pleased to direct that the website (Wikipedia) may be restored with immediate effect.”
Last week, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) gave Wikipedia 48 hours to remove content deemed “blasphemous”, before it ultimately blocked the website.
An agency spokesman had said Saturday that Wikipedia would “remain blocked until they remove all the objectionable material”, without specifying what content was at issue.
According to the order published Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had instructed a committee made up of three government ministers to examine the PTA’s decision to block Wikipedia.
The committee found that the “unintended consequences of this blanket ban... outweigh its benefits”, the document said.
Another ministerial committee would be established to further examine the issue, it said.
The order was signed by the primer minister’s principal secretary, Syed Tauqir Shah.
The Wikimedia Foundation—the non-profit fund managing Wikipedia—said in a statement over the weekend that the English version of the site receives more than 50 million pageviews in Pakistan per month.